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Voice Your Opinion to Stay, Help in Iraq  :  Published December 2006 All Rights Reserved


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Voice Your Opinion to Stay, Help in Iraq

Karl Newkirk
SPECIAL TO THINK & ASK
U.S. and World Politics Forum

Sitting on the side of disappointment, by the election and re-election of President George W Bush, I can understand how many liberals, Democrats, centrists, and independents have felt these past six years.

We had a president who received fewer votes than his opponent, but declared that he would rule with a “mandate,” completely ignoring the side that had more votes than him, which caused us to hate him. Several weeks ago on 7 November 2006, we all finally got our revenge, blasting the GOP out of the House and Senate.

Now, we consolidate our gains. President Bush is like a retreating foe and we must pursue him, just as aggressively as Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity launched their crusade against the left, right?

Hold on a second!
"What we must do is to stay in Iraq for at least another two years, as our military commanders have advised."

Writer Karl Newkirk

Wouldn’t this kind of political offensive make us just like the people who have been stepping on us? Caught up in our struggle against Karl Rove, Bush,  and FOX News, have we gotten become blind in our battle for political survival and forgot our liberal values?

Liberals are supposed to care about people.

We’re supposed to care about death in Darfur, and all of the people living under cruel oppression today. The mistake we make is that we allow our hatred for President Bush to supercede our own moral beliefs to help others, including those in Iraq.

We must not allow ourselves to sink to the level of Coulter or Hannity, where our hatred of one person or one group of ideologues completely overrides even our own most deeply held beliefs and convictions. That is why liberals must look at Iraq in accordance with their own beliefs and try to figure out what is the right thing to do. If we can put aside our hatred of President Bush's involvement of the United States in Iraq, maybe we can try to figure out the answer to a very different question: What do we do now?

Presently the United States has approximately 140,000 soldiers deployed in Iraq and the Iraqi security forces (including the Army) have approximately 325,000 soldiers and officers. There is a wide range of social readiness in the Iraqi Army, some from extremely poor training and lack of equipment and some in excellent shape and ready to turn on a dime.

Almost daily, Iraq faces terrorist attacks in the form of bombs, car bombs, mortar attacks and ambushes. Iraqi forces fight Baath (Ba'ath) remnants, al Qaeda, Shiite, and Sunni militias. Among these militias is the powerful Mahdi Army, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, which is 10,000 strong or more.

If the United States leaves Iraq rapidly, then Saudi Arabia has promised to provide material support to Sunni militias, while Iran and Hezbollah will provide support and training to al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. The demoralized, poorly organized, trained and equipped Iraqi Army would be caught in the middle of a regional war. Given that the security forces have not yet achieved the strength to stand on their own, and the Iraqi government does not have a stable political base in the center of Iraqi politics, there is little chance that the Iraqi government could survive this two-pronged attack.

Critics are keen to blame the Iraqis, but as General George William Casey has characterized, “the logic of this is you put pressure on [Iraq Prime Minister Nouri Kamel] al-Maliki and force him to stand up to this.

"Well, you can’t put pressure on a wounded guy. There is a premise that the Iraqis are not doing enough now, that there is a capability that they have not employed or used. I am not so sure they are capable of stopping sectarian violence.”

Various reports from United States' soldiers and advisors have commented that large parts of the Iraqi Army rely upon them, and that if the  Army were to leave, many of the soldiers and officers in the Iraq Army would quit. The organization of the Iraqi Army is also very poor, with officers uncertain who is assigned to their units and the rosters are unreliable.

Commanders in Iraq and the United States  have no idea who is assigned to which unit until recruits actually show up at their posts.

What we must do is to stay in Iraq for at least another two years, as our military commanders have advised.

The United States will be training the Iraqi security forces, providing funding and support and allowing them to gradually assume more and more of the responsibility of providing Iraqi security. The United States should gradually allow Iraqi forces to step in as they become available.

However, we should not rush out and allow unprepared forces to step in and the situation be damned if they fail. We need to take a paternalistic role, gradually moving the Iraq Army from trainees to the rear lines to the front lines. If we do it that way, then they will have the experience to take over when we leave. This will also give the Iraqi people and leadership a feeling of empowerment.

People who dislike President Bush could easily blame the fall-out on him.

But that would be a lie, since we are making a decision as well.

We do have a voice in deciding whether the United States should stay or leave in Iraq.

If we leave Iraq before its government can stand on its own, then it will be our fault for the ensuing regional war and the thousands of people who would perish. It will be our fault for having betrayed our own liberal ideas of saving the downtrodden and the weak.

We will have become vengeful partisans with no principle, no better than the Coulter and Hannity-types who we despise.


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