Monday, May 07, 2007

Sullivan Goes There Part I

Sully has been asking sporadically what are the consequences of continuing the war in Iraq. Today, he is starting to formalize the questions in a series of posts.

Personally, and I've said it before, I think it is time to withdraw. Our military is doing at least three different things.

  • Fighting a guerilla war against three foes: al Qaeda, Sunnis, Shi'ites.

  • Policing a civil war between Sunnis and Shi'ites. We don't even have the knowledge to tell them apart.

  • Attempting to reconstruct a country with minimal training to do so

We need to get out of the fray in Iraq. Pull back to "over the horizon" as some like to put it. We should bring most of our troops home but leave rapid strike forces in Kuwait and Kurdistan that can go after terrorists in Iraq and the rest of the region. We need to let the Iraqi's work fight it out. Yes, there will be a messy, bloody war in our wake. Our leaving won't magically make the combatants put down their weapons. It will be just the opposite. Without our military dampening their zeal the two (three?) sides will go at each other with much greater gusto. The Shi'ite majority will probably slaughter the Sunni minority. But we can't stop it. We can just die minimizing/postponing it. And as Sully points out, maybe a Muslim on Muslim war will be politically advantageous to us and damaging to al Qaeda.

Either way, we've lost. Yes, I'll say it. We lost. Not the few military battles that we've had. No, we've lost politically. We are never going to be able to create a democracy in Iraq, not now. We didn't understand what we were doing, we went in with far too few forces, and we lit the fuse of the Sunni-Shi'ite powder keg. We lost ideologically because we didn't go prepared to win. Remember, "we'll be greeted with flowers?" We were greeted as conquerers and crusaders. We were briefly thanked for eliminating Saddam and then we let chaos reign. We lost when the Baghdad museum was looted and Rumsfeld said, "Stuff happens."

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