No end in sight

03.29.07 | Comment?

Consider that the US involvement in World War II started December 7, 1941 and ended August 9, 1945, a little less than 4 years in total. Yes, there was considerable time and effort spent in Japan and Germany postwar with occupation and reconstruction, but generally speaking, combat ceased in late summer 1945.

Like the second world war, an unprovoked attack that galvanized and horrified Americans has forced the country into the present conflicts in Afganistan and Iraq. This month marked the 4th year of war in Iraq with 3,200 US military killed in action and no end to the conflict in sight, let alone a reconstruction period.

With the benefit of hindsight, it is clear that the US entered into the conflict with Iraq under the false pretenses of “Iraq has weapons of mass destruction” and “Iraq is a terrorist haven.” Unfortunately, post occupation, the latter has become true and the former was completely wrong. We have a President engaging in theater with “Mission Accomplished” in May, 2003 – yet the mission continues and people continue to die. There were deadlines for the Iraqi’s to meet for self-governance, paper deadlines, as the US is still engaged and occupying the country. That’s all the past now and nothing can be done about it, I only bring it up to raise the issue of credibility.

It’s time for everyone to realize this simple fact: there is no “good” outcome from our unilateral action in Iraq. None. There are only a series of “bad” choices ranging from the Administration’s “stay the course” option to immediate withdraw from the conflict. If we, yet again, extend the benefit of the doubt toward the Bush perspective of staying the course, the US will continue to suffer low level but ever mounting casualties in the Iraq civil war – and it still won’t be clear if/when/how to leave. If we leave, the civil war will likely flare up with outcomes ranging from a fractured series of new nations (Kurds, Sunnis, and Shiite controlled) to some sort of Iranian backed Shiite fundamentalist state.

As previously stated, there a no “good” choices here, only “bad” choices. Given that this is the case, given the Administration’s track record for honesty, clarity of thought, and planning, given that even if we “stay the course,” there still isn’t a good exit strategy, the conclusion is clear. It is time to provide the Iraqi government, such that it is, every opportunity to step up and help itself and for the US to exit Iraq before it becomes necessary to invade Iran.

For those of you who were allergic to history, this reminds me very clearly of the Spanish-American war of 1898 that was started by the sinking of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor. I fear that the situation with Iran is merely awaiting that “incident” – if in fact, it hasn’t already happened with the abduction of the 15 British sailors…

Congress has the right of this. Congress is supporting our troops with funding. Congress has acted on behalf of the US military and the people they represent by putting conditions on the funding. If the Administration vetos the funding bill, it will be clear who really doesn’t support the troops. It will be instructive to see how this all plays out, if the new Congress stands its ground, that will be a good sign.

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