Thursday, March 02, 2006

The Abandonment

The Moose ponders the question of defeat.

Is it time to declare that we have lost in Iraq and announce our withdrawal? That is the essential question on the table. Oh, some want to dress the issue up as strategic redeployment or timed withdrawal. But, Mr. Zarqawi will know what is happening.

He will know he has won.

Events of the last few weeks in Iraq are deeply troubling. Sectarian strife has cost the lives of hundreds of Iraqis. And our bravest continue to pay the ultimate cost. And no doubt about it, the strategists of this war have made horrific errors.

But we also have achieved much. We have toppled one of the most odious tyrannies of the post WW II period. We have enabled 26 million men and women to participate in democratic elections. Liberating a people used to be a progressive project.

But, there is no guarantee that Iraq will avoid a civil war or enjoy a stable democracy. After all, there was no guarantee in 1776 or a few years later that democracy would prevail in America. And America did suffer a bloody civil war.

This Administration failed to level with the American people about the cost of this war. It raised expectations from the very beginning with the despicable "Mission Accomplished" photo op. It failed to provide sufficient troop levels to restore order after the initial invasion. And it is a travesty that Donald Rumsfeld continues to occupy his position after the mistakes made on his watch.

Supporters of the war must also acknowledge that it is now unlikely that Iraq will enjoy democracy as we know it any time soon. We must discard any utopian illusions of a free republic emerging in Iraq in the near future. If President Bush's vision is to be faulted, it is for an excess of idealism. Sectarian hatred runs deep in the Moslem world,and it is being exploited by the likes of Zarqawi and the mullahs in neighboring Iran. And civil society must proceed any notion of a stable democracy as we are learning in the Palestine Authority.

But it is also an illusion that all will be better if we leave.

The chaos in Iraq will inevitably spread throughout the region. Iran and the neighboring countries will battle over the remains of the country. Zaqawi and friends will move to destabilize our remaining allies in the area. And it is likely we would have to re-invade.

Some opponents of the war are smugly chortling that "we told you so." Perhaps. But, these opponents do not necessarily occupy the strategic nor moral high ground. Do they really think that any post-9/11 President would allow Saddam to continue to taunt the West with the possibility of WMD? Do they believe that the realist notion of stability in the Middle East is a solution?

And would Iraq and the world really be better with a brutal tyrant still ruling over a country of rape rooms, mass graves and children's prisons? Do these war opponents really long for the "good old days" of Saddam's lovely Mesopotamian paradise that posed no earthly threat to the region?

Is it possible that Iraq will be lost? Of course it is. And it will be much more likely that it will be lost if America leaves precipitously. Then, the supporters of an early withdrawal will have to address the consequences of both an American defeat and that our international Jihadist enemy will be emboldened.

Anti-war Democrats increasingly only see a political up-side in advocating a redeployment, a phased withdrawal, an immediate withdrawal or whatever else they want to call it. History should inform these anti-warriors that Democrats have spent the past three decades attempting to overcome the perception that they are the party of weakness. Whatever short-term gains that they will achieve with their opposition to the war will soon be overtaken by the perception that Democrats are the party of "cut and run."

There is no easy answer to our current predicament. But, defeat is certain if we abandon Iraq.

And then, we would reap the whirlwind.
-- Posted at 8:20 AM | Link to this post | Email this post