And What Would Happen If We Stopped Doing It?
[Part I of a Three-Part Series)
Here's a FAQ (a list of Frequently Asked Questions) about our current military interventions in the Middle East:
Q: Mitt Romney went on TV the other night and explained that if he were President that he'd have a classified timetable for withdrawal from Iraq but that he certainly wouldn't forewarn the enemy like the Democrats are proposing . . . I mean really, how stupid is that? . . . telling the enemy when you're scheduling your defeat? I mean wouldn't the terrorists just hunker down and wait it out if they thought we were leaving?
A: That's a whole bunch of questions, but let me try to begin.
First of all, I don't think it's stupid at all to propose a date for us to leave Iraq. We're not at war. Congress authorized a limited military action aimed at removing the seemingly imminent threat of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction. Regardless of your political ideology or preference in spin, I think we can all safely agree that when President Bush declared "Mission Accomplished", his mandate was, in fact, complete. Whatever you believe about the politics that got us into Iraq, the "WMD" themselves, or any of the violent aftermath . . . at that point the mission had been carried out. (By the way if you click on the link to the official White House press release, the official administration graphic says "Iraq: Denial and Deception" which I am certain is supposed to refer to Saddam's denials and deceptions but may strike some with a bit of irony . . . )
If you believe that we are at war and that it started with 9/11 then the government should declare it according to the provisions specified within our current Constitution. And when we declare war we will have the opportunity to declare our enemy. If the Bush administration truly wants a war on "terrorism" and anything that can be portrayed as "terroristical" inside or outside our country, then let the President obtain a true declaration of war that clarifies that everyone and everything, everywhere is suspect and justifiably within our gunsites. Let's finish suspending the Bill of Rights and every treaty we have ever signed with any of those evil nation-states that surround our borders. Let us carefully amend our Constitution in ways that empower our righteous leaders to protect us from the new and dangerous realities of our modern world.
Oh wait, I just described the germination of every evil dictatorship in human history . . . no matter, those despots were obviously visionaries. We just got bogged down along the way to greatness and security by those pesky, over-rated relics in our past (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the Ten Commandments, . . .) I digress. Sorry. Okay, back to the question:
Furthermore, if the terrorists just 'hunker down and wait it out' then that would be good for everyone. Less of our young men and women killed (and killing). Thousands less civilians blown up in bombs. More time for peace, introspection, and evaluation.
Finally, your question seems to posit two debatable assumptions that need elucidation:
1)We are in Iraq cleaning up the unfortunate effects of our liberation: 'wiping up' some undesirable terrorist elements that want to fill the power vacuum.
2)If we fight the terrorists 'over there' it helps stop them from coming 'over here.'
While it does appear true that some of the terrorist elements are trying to force their way into power and that the rise of Iraqi terrorism is directly due to our actions, one thing seems certain after four years: 'if we keep doing what we are doing, we will keep getting what we are getting'.
Assumption one is basically a pandora's box:
"Did we liberate Iraq?"
"Can we wipe up the terrorist elements like so much liquid into a sponge?"
"If we leave will the 'bad guys' take over?"
"Do the majority of Iraqis want us there?"
"Is our presence in Iraq designed to stop the terrorists, or is it actually the rallying cause behind the rise of terrorism in that country?"
"Is the native resistance growing stronger or losing steam?"
"Are more of the terrorists from in-country or out?"
"Regardless of how few foreign terrorists are involved, do we want to purposefully pursue a proxy war with surrounding nations for any strategic purpose?"
"If all terrorism, US-opposition, and in-country political disputes auto-magically disappeared, do we really have any intention of leaving the country? Even our gigantic, new, expensive, state-of-the-art military bases?"
Assumption two is likewise fairly disingenuous and begs further scrutiny:
"Are all terrorists of every stripe 'in cahoots' with each other?"
"Is 'al Qaeda', even, truly such a monolithic block that if we hit somebody claiming allegiance to their movement in Iraq that it affects the planning and funding of terrorists plots on our own soil?"
"If you were a major, sophisticated terrorist organization based on the destruction of the United States (and not just its colonizing army in your own country), would you be stupid enough to base your operations in a theatre of war like Iraq or even Afghanistan these days?"
Q: OK, OK, whatever. But I'm tired of all these cynical liberals who find it SO easy to criticize and question. The truth is that we need to DO something not just protest and whine. What SHOULD we do?
A: It seems to me that most every proposal on the way forward (and there ARE some interesting proposals out there on the table, despite what Rush/Sean might have you believing . . .) fits in one of the following camps:
1) Dramatically step up the military campaign (not Pres. Bush's "surge" . . . something much more decisive . . . Hiroshima comes to mind . . . take the gloves off)
2) Withdraw and end the military campaign.
3) Keep doing basically the same things we are doing. . . maybe with more troops . . . cement the infrastructure for uncertain ongoing intervention and support . . . and patiently "stay the course" until peace and security slowly, but surely (and inevitably) return.
Right now, #2 seems the only wise and morally justifiable course of action. We'll consider those three options in more detail in Part II of this FAQ. (Preview Question for tomorrow: "But if we declare failure and retreat, won't that embolden our enemies, diminish our standing in the world, and endanger our citizenry both at home and abroad?")