Thursday, September 14, 2006


The Moose examines the question of progressivism and Iraq.

Across the political spectrum, there is an emerging consensus that we are not winning the Iraq war. However, there is a clear difference over what we do now. Some voices on the right are calling for more troops. And the left offers various scenarios for withdrawal.

One thing is certain - the only force that stands between Iraq and complete chaos is the American military presence. Without our troops there is no doubt that the country would descend into a massive civil war with the possible death of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis. It will be Darfur on steroids.

The supporters of the war are clearly responsible for its consequences - good and bad. But, those who believe in a precipitous withdrawal or, as it is euphemistically dubbed, "redeployment" would also bear a moral burden for the consequences of retreat.

Larry Kaplan makes a critical and eloquent point in the New Republic,

"Having gone into Iraq under the banner of idealism, we will abandon it in the name of cold-blooded realism. Never mind the thousands of Iraqis who assisted the Americans and could well be doomed. Never mind that, in the enemy's imagination, entire peoples--Iraq's Christian population, among others--belong to this category. Iraq's liberals, too--like Mithal Al Allusi, a decent man who heeded our summons to build a new Iraq and saw his two sons murdered for his sins--will be erased. The secular, the nonsectarian, the pro-Western voices--these will be quieted as well...

"The genocide that followed in Cambodia and the spectacle of Vietnam's reeducation camps will not be repeated in Iraq. But ask any American officer there and he will tell you that, absent U.S. forces, Iraq's ditches will fill rapidly as the death toll multiplies tenfold. The United States owes Iraq many things. Being an engine of murder isn't one of them."

And Kaplan makes a profound point that should particularly be heeded by those on the left of the political spectrum.

"Far from the reactionary enterprise imagined by so many Americans, the U.S. military is the most progressive force in Iraq."

There are honest disagreements on the wisdom of intervening in Iraq. The Moose continues to believe it was the right thing to do from both moral and strategic perspectives. But, there can be no doubt that abandoning Iraq now would create a humanitarian nightmare.

Progressives who properly abhor the Darfur genocide cannot invite another one in Mesopotamia. The path to success in Iraq is far from clear. But calling it quits now has moral and strategic consequences that even the war's opponents must recognize.

The failure of the Administration to change course and not to increase troop levels has been disastrous. Now that we face a crisis situation, it appears necessary to at least temporarily bolster the military presence and address the problem of the heightened militia violence. If necessary, the Administration and Congress should make it the top priority to permanently increase the size of the Army.

The war opponents often fault those who oppose a premature withdrawal with lacking a plan. But, what do they propose when the slaughter begins? Re-invade? Hold candle light vigils? Passionately blog?

One can quibble about how we went to war and the pre-war intelligence. And politicians can lament all they want about whether they were wrong about the war before they were right. For the moment, however, that debate is largely irrelevant.

The question on the table is whether we protect an elected government and prevent a massacre of innocents or do we abandon many democrats to the mercies of terrorists and sectarian extremists. It is a cruel delusion that the anti-war position is the humanitarian one.
-- Posted at 8:20 AM | Link to this post | Email this post