Editorial

The case for withdrawing from Iraq

Friday, November 14, 2014

Politicians and pundits have reached a near consensus that the United States must take military action against a group that holds territory in Syria and Iraq, a group that calls itself the Islamic State and is referred to in the U.S. as ISIS or ISIL.

A war weary public has become increasingly willing to return America to an active combat role, not only because of the campaign of terror by ISIS, but also because of a campaign by politicians and pundits to instill terror at the murky, but supposedly horrific consequences of an ISIS left unchallenged by America's military might.

There are heated debates regarding the nature and level of our military involvement, but largely absent in the public debate are voices urging us to get the hell out of there.

The few officials and commentators who opposed our invasion of Iraq in 2003 continue to be ignored, while most of the "experts" enlightening us about Iraq today informed us in 2003 that Iraq needed to be overthrown to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. They promised that the Iraqi people would welcome American soldiers as liberators, the war would last only a few weeks and oil revenue would pay for the adventure.

These particular erroneous assumptions are not being repeated but there is a lack of critical analysis of the agenda of the military industrial complex.

If the term "military industrial complex" sounds like a leftist rant, bear in mind that it originated with President Eisenhower, who served as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe during World War II.

His warning was ignored and America now has a military budget greater than that of the next dozen highest spending countries combined. The primary opposition to the grotesquely bloated military empire has come from the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, the people who really believe that the best possible government is the least possible government.

But voices from this group have largely been drowned out by a bipartisan foreign policy orthodoxy. Ron Paul was successfully ignored (Google "The worst media malfeasance of the century" and "Ross Rambles why truth matters"), then Rand Paul was successfully neutered (Google "The rehabilitation of Rand Paul").

Advocacy of an American role as the world's police force continues, despite half a century of almost always making situations worse through our involvement in foreign conflicts. We have no hope of imposing an American-defined solution to the 1400-year-old Sunni-Shia conflict in the Middle East.

ISIS has been purging non-Sunnis from areas they control by executions, forced marriages and rape. The Muslim nations of the Middle East, even Sunni dominated nations, cannot allow such barbaric extremists to continue unchallenged.

What they can do, if we are stupid enough to allow them, is privately encourage America to take care of the immediate problem of ISIS while letting America be the primary target of ISIS and its sympathizers. Once ISIS is eliminated or diminished significantly, a new threat will emerge and America will continue to be a scapegoat, bleeding lives and treasure in a perpetual lost cause.

Has there been any world conflict in the last half century in which American involvement has actually made the situation better?

Operation Desert Storm, the war of the first President Bush, had a clear objective that was openly and tangibly supported by a multi-nation alliance.

Following the completion of Operation Desert Storm, then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was asked why we didn't continue on to Baghdad to take out Saddam Hussein. His response in 1994 has been posted on YouTube and written up in a variety of publications. This was taken from the Daily Kos blog:

"...if we'd gone to Baghdad we would have been all alone. There wouldn't have been anybody else with us. There would have been a U.S. occupation of Iraq. None of the Arab forces that were willing to fight with us in Kuwait were willing to invade Iraq.

"Once you got to Iraq and took it over, took down Saddam Hussein's government, then what are you going to put in its place? That's a very volatile part of the world, and if you take down the central government of Iraq, you could very easily end up seeing pieces of Iraq fly off: part of it, the Syrians would like to have to the west, part of it -- eastern Iraq -- the Iranians would like to claim, they fought over it for eight years.

"In the north, you've got the Kurds, and if the Kurds spin loose and join with the Kurds in Turkey, then you threaten the territorial integrity of Turkey.

"It's a quagmire if you go that far and try to take over Iraq.

"The other thing was casualties.

"Everyone was impressed with the fact we were able to do our job with as few casualties as we had. But for the 146 Americans killed in action, and for their families -- it wasn't a cheap war. And the question for the president, in terms of whether or not we went on to Baghdad, took additional casualties in an effort to get Saddam Hussein, was how many additional dead Americans is Saddam worth?

"Our judgment was, not very many, and I think we got it right."