Friday, February 22, 2008

Krauthammer on Iraq

He writes:
Now, however, there is simply no denying the remarkable improvements in Iraq since the surge began a year ago.

Unless you're a Democrat. As Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) put it, "Democrats have remained emotionally invested in a narrative of defeat and retreat in Iraq." Their Senate leader, Harry Reid, declares the war already lost. Their presidential candidates (eight of them at the time) unanimously oppose the surge. Then the evidence begins trickling in.


I am not as completely sanguine as Krauthammer, but the progress is undeniable.

4 comments:

alan_howe said...

I thought I might write to Krauthammer after reading his op-ed this morning and politely informing him that he had been suckered. He has been pulled into a Bush- and Bush supporters-orchestrated debate about matters that do not track with US national interests. It matters not a wit whether the number of Americans dying in Iraq is more or less if we are not leaving. It does not matter that some Iraqis want to continue to kill other Iraqis, while some, like al Sadr have decided to take a year off on that pursuit.

Very nearly four hundred Americans have died in Iraq since the surge reached full strength last June. We have spent between $80B and $120B on our operations there. Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda leadership is resurgent, or so our latest National Intelligence Estimate would believe. We are trading a strong national defense, perhaps our economic health, and justice for the 9/11 attackers for a continued presence in Iraq, and--less importantly since the surge is being touted as "successful" while most of the original benchmarks remain well out of reach--some minor improvements for Iraqis. The wisdom of that choice--trading defense, economic health, and justice for a peaceful presence in a foreign country--is not being debated. Instead, we allow ourselves to be distracted by nonsensical talk over levels of violence in Iraq and whose prediction was right.

Krauthammer and others insist the "war" in Iraq must be won. Who does he expect to surrender and what will we gain? If every foreign fighter in the country surrendered, Iraqis would still resist the presence of American forces in their homeland. Does that mean the war is still not "won"? Can we not declare victory until the Iraqis relent and let us stay unmolested? What, Mr Krauthammer, what national interest does that serve? Why should we trade a strong national defense and bin Laden's head for that?

We are being suckered if we think the success of the surge is the right debate. That talk resounds as questions regarding the security and pacification of a US colony--something we do not need. Visit iraq-itag.org for a solution.

FLG said...

"He has been pulled into a Bush- and Bush supporters-orchestrated debate about matters that do not track with US national interests."

Is avoiding a pull out, and the inevitable calls by al-Qaeda that they defeated two superpowers, not in the national interest of the US? I don't think the case is very strong, but you dismiss it out of hand.

"If every foreign fighter in the country surrendered, Iraqis would still resist the presence of American forces in their homeland."

Is that true? South Koreans protest our presence, yet the government wants us there. I am not sure that if violence was down to a minimum, and therefore US troops were on base instead of in their homes and neighborhoods, that Iraqis would definitely mind.

"What, Mr Krauthammer, what national interest does that serve?"

I would argue that the creation of a stable, peaceful Iraq would show US resolve in the face of a huge onslaught of al-Qaeda and insurgent fighters, which may save US lives in the long-term.

"That talk resounds as questions regarding the security and pacification of a US colony"

I reject the US of the word colony. Everybody agrees the US should get out eventually. It is simply a question of when and at what cost. We aren't going to rule Iraq, even if our forces stay there. Do we rule Germany, France, or even Fiji? All places where we have US troops.

alan_howe said...

"Is avoiding a pull out, and the inevitable calls by al-Qaeda that they defeated two superpowers, not in the national interest of the US? I don't think the case is very strong, but you dismiss it out of hand."

See, here is the problem, we act as though we are in a do-or-die fight with al Qaeda. It is an existential fight for al Qaeda (at least, it had better be), but it is not for the United States. Al Qaeda cannot defeat us, ever.

It is in our interest to avoid this claim from al Qaeda if we give any credence to al Qaeda's claims. We should not, yet we buttress their boasts by making the same case for them. Our President can't stop talking about how dangerous al Qaeda is in Iraq, despite their small numbers and the fact they hold long-term control of zero geography. The fact is, al Qaeda did not drive us from Somalia as they claim; the Somalis fought us, and we decided our national interests did not include staying. Al Qaeda played an almost useless role in getting the USSR out of Afghanistan. Likewise, the few foreign fighters in Iraq associated with al Qaeda will not be driving us out. Rather, we have accomplished all we set out to do in 2003, and the resistance from Iraqis to our presence, along with the absence of a compelling US national interest, demand that we leave. We agree we are not there to colonize for oil, right?

All al Qaeda and bin Laden boasting will come to an end when we put renewed (and after a withdrawal from Iraq, enhanced) effort toward capturing or killing the al Qaeda leader. We drove them out of Afghanistan and they were not defeated. Our voluntary departure from Iraq will not signify our defeat either. It will, however, be an important step toward bin Laden's defeat. We should note, again, that al Qaeda has never captured and held territory. They were given a home in Afghanistan by the Taliban and now one in Pakistan gained by the Taliban.

Al Qaeda wants to kill Americans. As long as they continue to create violence in Iraq, we keep American targets in their sights. Their recruiting also benefits from our presence. A credible argument could be made that it is in al Qaeda's interest that the US stay in Iraq. Why give them credit for their efforts there? Why help them out? We should leave Iraq, go to the Afghan/Pakistan border, and begin exacting some long-overdue justice.

(Readers can find this argument in "Winning in Iraq" on the documents page at the ITAG web site.)

I do not like the term "colony" either, and I am not willing to argue that anyone is intentionally trying to colonize Iraq. Rather, we are simply bumbling along the colonization path. We control the defense and intelligence operations in this "sovereign" country. We are fighting until they submit to our presence. There is no parallel to South Korea, which we rescued from invasion, nor any with West Germany or Japan. You might find some convincing resemblance, however, with the French resistance in WWII or in comparing administration actions today with those recorded by Barbara Tuchman in the Vietnam section of "The March of Folly."

We are negotiating for a long-term agreement to a US presence in Iraq to proceed after we have pacified the country. Bush says ten years. McCain says one hundred. Have no doubt, Sunnis and Shi'a alike will resist that. To them, that smacks of colonialism. Their government and country was not rescued from invasion like Kuwait; it was invaded. Muqtada al Sadr has called for a suspension of the Jaish al Mahdi. He has not called for it to disband, and he has not embraced the US presence. I don't expect him to. No one should.

Indeed, South Koreans and Japanese and others protest. But, the Iraqi patriots have guns and bombs. Into the mix, al Qaeda flows some foreign fighters to sow a little nihilism and kill some Americans. We should quit that and go defeat al Qaeda. That is far more important than proving we can stay where we are not wanted and suck up the costs.

FLG said...

Perception is reality. Whether or not al-Qaeda defeat the USSR or not, perception is what matters. If we withdraw from Iraq there is ZERO doubt that they will claim victory, and a lot of people will believe them. This is not about whether they actually defeated us, but whether a whole host of new recruits BELIEVE that they did.

However, I agree that we should be pursing them in the Afghan-Pakistan border region. The problem is with invading a nuclear power.

 
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.