The President is getting slammed for his new plan, announced Wednesday night in his televised address. I can’t believe I am saying this, but I think he might be right about this one.
I was against the Iraq war in the first place, and that’s when I believed their story about WMD. And I have been grinning from ear to ear since the Democrats took the Senate and the House away from the Republicans that were running amok. So why in the hell am I backing Bush on this one?
It seems obvious to me that to begin an immediate withdrawal now would make things worse for the US in the long run. The lack of a solid governing body in place would certainly lead to increased sectarian violence and more influence from outside forces like Iran and Syria and al-Qaeda. We can’t maintain the status quo either though, because we’ll just end up in the same place as if we started immediate withdrawal, but it will take longer.
So, is increasing the number of troops likely to solve the problem? No. But it also isn’t a guaranteed failure either. There is a chance that it might work. Everyone who says it is “too late” is partially correct. It is too late to get it right with the right number of troops at the beginning. But it isn’t too late to give more troops a try. Bush’s new plan of securing an area and sticking around, rather than moving on, does reverse the military’s (Rumsfeld’s) long-running mistake. And I do feel the US has an obligation to do our best to leave a stable Iraq – after all, we broke it so we should fix it.
The definition of winning and losing in Iraq has always been a little confusing to me. I suppose if we had gotten rid of Saddam, destroyed WMD, helped establish a new democratic government, and had our military out within 2 years, maybe that would have been a “win”. But today, winning has been redefined as not losing. Or, more specifically, not losing as badly as we might. We’ve already lost the public relations war – that happened as soon as some knucklehead put an American flag on the Saddam statue. We’ve lost respect and we’ve lost the implicit right to police the world as we see fit. And so far, we are losing Iraq to Islamic Fundamentalism; and considering that Iraq was not a candidate for Islamic Fundamentalism before we arrived (as much as Bush wants to believe it was), that means we are losing a battle of our own making. So, now, winning can only be defined as not losing that too.
Winning in Iraq is now getting out of Iraq without creating a terrorist haven, leaving it only moderately more dysfunctional than it was before. Our odds are not good, but our only chance is to try more troops. As Baker himself has said, we’ll know if that’s working within a few months. Let’s hope that it will.