If we withdrew from Iraq this week...
- What would happen to the U.S. image abroad? Better or worse?
- What would happen to the people of Iraq, their Government, and their new democracy?
- What impact would such a move have on the security of the region? Who would benefit? Who would feel the pain?
- What impact would it have on terrorist movements across the World? Would the US, Europe and Australia be safer?
- What would Iran and Syria do? Would Iran attempt to install an Islamic government?
- Would Iraq fall into full civil war?
- What would happen to the growing economies in the Northern (Kurdish) and Southern parts of Iraq?
- What would happen to the oil? Would the Iraqi people benefit from it?
- What do China and Russia do? Would they seek to exert strong regional influence? How would these two powerful nations act globally as a result?
- What economic impact would it have on the U.S.?
What unites the anti-war critics on both sides of the political isle is their refusal to confront two stubborn facts. The first and most obvious is that, notwithstanding the countless obituaries that have been written in its name, the surge has not yet been given a chance to work. The last of the troops involved in the plan have arrived only in recent weeks and military commanders have been adamant that it needs to be continued until next spring for the results to become clear. At the very least, it would seem reasonable for legislators to wait until September, when General David Petraeus is scheduled to deliver his assessment of the strategy, before rushing to politically calculated conclusions. Moving up the deadline for the review may please anti-war dogmatists, but there is no reason to think that it qualifies as a credible evaluation of the military’s efforts -- particularly since the first detailed overview of the situation on the ground by the U.S. military shows some notable, if admittedly modest, improvements in security.
The second and similarly unacknowledged point is that a premature withdrawal would almost certainly produce a national-security disaster. As Iraq's foreign minister warned this week, an early exit would likely lead to a failed state. Whether Western-style democratic government was ever feasible in Iraq’s tribal and aggressively sectarian culture is a subject worthy of debate, but it should not be difficult to see that abandoning the country to al-Qaeda and its allies ill-serves American interests.
There is nothing positive to be gained from an immediate or even phased departure from Iraq unless the job is finished. I do not care how loud the anti-Iraq war movement is and will become - from both the Left and the Right – we must stay the course at least until a solution is designed even if it eventually involves the U.N., Iran and Syria.
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