What we need to do in Iraq

The current pro-Bush consensus is that we must stay in Iraq, or there will be a bloodbath.

What this means is that the Iraqi government is defenseless without the presence of U.S. forces.

But if the Iraqi government by itself is defenseless, then obviously the “surge” period, even if it were extended for a few months, is not going to turn a defenseless government into one capable of defending itself and the Iraqi people. How long, then, will it take for the government to become a competent, self-sustaining government? A year? Five years? Ten years? Fifty years?

In April 2004 I wrote an article, “‘Staying the course’ means staying in Iraq—forever,” in which I said:

A British brigadier general in Iraq says that the Coalition forces will have to stay in Iraq for from two to ten years to maintain security after the handover of sovereignty to an Iraqi government. But what, pray tell, does this general expect to happen at the end of two years, or ten years, that would allow the Coalition forces to leave? What are we actually doing or planning to do that would make our soldiers’ departure possible? No one says. As I discussed in my article, “Iraqi Democratization versus Iraqi Violence,” this is simply more of the same old “staying the course” mantra—which really means staying a course that by its own inherent logic does not lead to victory but only to an endless holding action.

In September 2004 I wrote to the pro-Bush blogger “Captain Ed” Morrissey:

There will be no self-sustaining government in Iraq, “democratic” or otherwise, until the insurgency is defeated. But we have no strategy in place to defeat the insurgency. As it looks now, we will have to stay there forever, even as our troops and innocent Iraqis are being mass murdered every week. [Italics added.]

Since 2004 a government has been created, and untold resources have gone into training the Iraqi army and security forces, but the Iraqi entity is still unable to protect the security of the Iraqi people from mass murderers or even to sustain its own existence.

If our departure now would result in a bloodbath, I do not see anything in the cards that will enable us to leave ever without a bloodbath. Since we’re going to have to leave Iraq sometime, and since whenever we leave the result will be a bloodbath, wouldn’t it be better for us to leave now rather than later?

Also, it may be our own presence in Iraq that keeps the violence churning. If we leave, the groups in Iraq will fight it out among themselves, with a lot of mutual ethnic cleansing, eventually reaching a stasis. A bloodbath may be the only way to achieve peace.

In other words, the only way for the fighting to end is to allow real fighting to occur. As long as the U.S. is there, with its Western concerns about subduing violence and protecting people, the real fighting that is needed to bring about peace cannot take place.

If that brutal but effective option seems unacceptable to us, another alternative is to stay in Iraq for a year while we help the peoples of Iraq move toward ethnic partition, and then we leave.

Either way, we have to leave Iraq. What must be rejected is leaving Iraq in the Democratic Party’s way, in a way that looks like a defeat, which would encourage our jihadist enemies everywhere. Here, then, is what I propose. We should leave Iraq, while announcing that our former policy of Muslim democratization was a mistake and that our new policy is not to spread democracy to the Muslim world, but to stop and reverse the spread of Muslims to our world. Instead of acting like some pathetically distracted, naive do-gooder, like the James Stewart character in The Man who Shot Liberty Valance, we will look like a tough country shedding our liberal illusions about the Muslims and determined to defend our own safety. Instead of being a defeat, such a withdrawal will be part of a radical strategic shift in which we leave our foolish past behind and immeasurably strengthen our own position.

The conceptual and strategic re-thinkng that I propose, by turning into a gain what had previously promised to be a humiliating and dangerous loss, will also affect the way we view our casualties in Iraq. Instead of feeling that so many deaths and maimings of American soldiers were in vain, as they would appear to be if we simply retreated according to the Democrats’ plan, we will understand that their sacrifice served a great purpose, teaching us lessons indispensable for our national and civilizational welfare: namely the futility of democratizing a Muslim country, and the utter incompatibility of Islam and the West. Our men’s loss will have helped cure us of the destructive illusions of universal democratism, thus strengthening our country for future Islamic challenges in a way that no other experience could have done.

But as for Iraq, I repeat that there are only two ways to end the fighting there:

(1) the U.S. leaves, allowing real fighting and violent ethnic cleansing to occur, so that the various sides can reach a new stasis whatever it may be, with the only unacceptable outcome for the U.S. being an Al Qaeda takeover, in which case we would re-invade and destroy the Al Qaeda regime; or

(2) the U.S. helps lead the Iraqis in a peaceful ethnic partition separating the mutually hating groups from each other.

Also, as I wrote recently, under no circumstances must we receive an influx of Iraqi refugees. We freed the Iraqis from the despotism of Saddam Hussein, and they used that freedom to make their country unlivable. It would be insane if we, out of guilt for the chaos that we helped unleash in Iraq, brought the Iraqis to the land of freedom, America, so that they could make America unlivable too.

Of course, not all Iraqis contributed to the terror and violence in Iraq but have been its victims. But my argument does not depend on blaming the Iraqis for what has happened in Iraq. Even if the worst were true about America’s Iraq involvement, even if the U.S. were completely responsible for the unprecedented terror war that followed the U.S. invasion, we must not import large numbers of Iraqis to our country. We cannot make up for what we have arguably done to Iraq by wrecking America as well.

And, of course, a main purpose of the new policy I propose is not to let Muslims into the West but to keep them out.

- end of initial entry -

Dylan H. writes:

Here is an interesting discussion of Shi’ites v. Sunnis in Iraq. If half of what they say is true then there is no way for Iraq to escape a real blood bath, as you indicate as one possibility. The idea is not so appalling to them as it is to us. Most of us cannot imagine such ingrained factional hatred and I suspect the recent detente between Iran and the Saudis is simply bunk.

Note: other sundry and more speculative entries on this site are bellicose to say the least and not for the faint of heart.

John D. writes:

I don’t know if you remember that I mentioned to you the story of a hometown boy, PFC. Shawn Falter and four of his fellow soldiers getting ambushed by a group of Iranian backed insurgents in January, but here’s the article from Thursday’s USA Today front page. Notice in particular this paragraph in the story:

“Iraqi police usually filled the compound. But that evening, mysteriously none was there, according to Army investigators. Iraqi vendors had suddenly closed up shop and gone home early. Investigators now suspect Iraqi police secretly cooperated with an Iranian-trained assault force.”

Given that our soldiers cannot even trust the Iraqi’s that are supposed to have their backs, the boy’s mother, a once proud military mom with three other sons currently serving our country, said recently that we should pull out immediately so they can all just kill each other. I am inclined to agree. How can one wish to fight for the freedom of those who are killing us for doing so?

Edward writes:

Does withdrawing from Iraq mean that we have de facto withdrawn militarily from the entire Persian Gulf. If so what will protect the saudi govt from the terrorists and a takeover of Saudi Arabia by an Arab terrorist group or by the Iranians, directly or through a surrogate. 40% of all oil exported to industrail societies passes through the staits of Hormus in the Persian gulf. whoever controls that passage has the power to strangle industrial ( Western countries) and bring them to total submission. Next to Canada, the Arabian peninsula is the most important source of American imported oil. The oil fields of Mexico are in severe decline, the Venezuela oil is poor quality and under the control of Hugo Chavez, an American enemy. Canada and Arabia are the essential oil sources for our survival. Without that oil we cannot survive as a modern society. The U.S. govt is planning on investing billions in Africa in the hope of developing alternative oil sources that can replace the oil we will be loosing from the Persian Gulf area. You cannot leave until you become energy independent of the Persian Gulf. As China, India and other developing nations continue to develop there will be more intense competition for natural resources, and Persian Gulf oil and natural gas will become more important to our survival. The United States cannot leave, what we must do is tell the truth. We are not there to bring democracy but because we need the oil and must protect Saudi Arabia, the biggest oil supplier in the region. In order to protect our national interest we must fight the war to win and not as an exercise in social work. Premature withdrawal will mean our destruction as a modern society. As an aside, we need to reduce our population from 300 million to 200 million. that would in itself reduce our dependency on imported natural resources.That takes time and in a liberal society is almost impossible to do.

LA replies:

I spoke of getting our troops out of the middle of the Iraq debacle. I did not address the question of the Mideast as a whole. And besides, what are we doing now to protect the Saudi regime?

The idea that “we’re there to protect the oil” is absurd. Concerns about oil were there for many years before March 2003, yet we did not occupy Iraq. We occupied Iraq because of the WMDs issue and as part of Bush’s plan to spread democracy in order to heal Islamic extremisms. Our presence in Iraq has not materially affected oil availability and pricing one way or the other.

Now Edward talks about “winning” the war. So what does he mean? Sending 500,000 troops to Iraq?

Mark P. writes:

I think this is a great article and that your policies are sound.

A third (Machiavellian) alternative is to let the Democrats take the lead on Iraq after Clinbama wins the Presidency. You’ll get your bloodbath that will (eventually) create a stasis, but the Democrats will get blamed for precipitating an Iraqi disaster. Remember, their whole (stated) reason for leaving Iraq is that America is the cause of all the bloodshed, that it is our presence that is leading to a civil war. When this prediction becomes demonstrably false, Clinbama will wear quite an egg on its face and the Democrats will have a major policy blunder on their hands (imagine what will happen to oil prices.)

I agree that we should either partition Iraq or leave with the realignment of our mission away from democratization toward real security. I doubt, however, that any of these options are on the table. Consequently, the best situation is to let Bush be as stubborn as possible, veto any troop pullouts, and let the Democrats inherit Iraq.

Under no circumstances should we have any bipartisan agreement to withdraw. This will effectively neutralize any blame and create a situation where everyone is at fault, making no one at fault. The Republicans hanging together to support the Iraq “war” while the Democrats gesticulate and Bush vetos is an excellent second-best solution.

LA replies:

The question of which U.S. political party gets blamed for this is as far down on my list of priorities as could possibly be. I can’t imagine why Mark thinks that that is the most important issue here, when we’re talking about the ruin of a country, a region in war, American soldiers being killed and all the rest of it.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at July 13, 2007 08:56 PM | Send

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