Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Decades to come

By Michael J.W. Stickings

I have criticized Gen. Petraeus before -- he's a good Bushie when he needs to be -- but credit him now at least for being candid:

The head of US forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, has told the BBC that fighting the insurgency is a "long term endeavour" which could take decades.

This is likely true. It may or may not be the latest spin from the White House (check with Tony Snow, who shamelessly self-contradicts with the best of them, an even better Bush is he), but there is no doubt that it would take a long time to triumph, in any real way, over the insurgency in Iraq. Petraeus's Northern Ireland analogy is telling.

Of course, this begs the question of whether or not the American people would support, such a seemingly endless endeavour, a war without end. It almost goes without saying that they would not. And nor would their representatives, more and more of whom are looking for a way out sooner rather than later -- beyond those who have been calling for getting out for a long time.

Does it matter to Bush? Perhaps not. He'll be gone by January 2009. Unless withdrawal (or redeployment, call it what you will) takes place on his watch, and one suspects that it will not, it will fall to his successor to make the call. Withdrawal is the better option, but one can imagine a Republican president following Petraeus's lead and hunkering down for a decades-long struggle, or at least until some subsequent president changes course and does what should have been done already.

All the more reason to vote Democratic next year.

And let me make this observation: In Petraeus's view, the Iraq War is very much an insurgency war. Yet the Iraqi insurgency exists only because the United States launched a war against Iraq and, through gross mismanagement of that war, unleased what has come to be an insurgency that would require a decades-long commitment to a subsequent war. In other words, the United States is responsible for the insurgency against which it is now waging war.

To which there are two proper responses:

1) The U.S. never should have invaded Iraq or at least never should have waged that initial war so badly. One reaps what one sows, and this is no exception.

2) The U.S. should get out of Iraq now so that the insurgency has no obvious enemy against which to fight. The Sunnis could wage war against the Shiites, and vice versa, which has been happening for some time -- there is civil war in Iraq, alongside the insurgency war -- but it is quite possible that U.S. withdrawal would stimulate progress in terms of peace, security, and stable government, not anarchy. The more moderate elements on both sides could, in the long run, prevail.

Regardless, though, what good is the U.S. doing by remaining, by continuing to be an occupying force? Fighting al Qaeda? But al Qaeda will survive the war no matter the outcome -- and, indeed, the U.S. occupation is only making al Qaeda stronger, encouraging terrorism more broadly, and sapping American resources that could be deployed elsewhere. Supporters of the war may think the U.S. has al Qaeda tied down in Iraq, but the reality is that al Qaeda and its allies have the U.S. tied down in what the top U.S. commander acknowledges would be a decades-long struggle.

It is time to get out, not to prepare for decades of more of the same.

Labels: , , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home