Measured Against Reality

Thursday, May 10, 2007

The case for staying in Iraq

I plan to make a coherent, logical, factual case for why pulling out of Iraq is a bad idea. This is not the argument of some fringe Bush-loving lunatic, it’s the academic argument for keeping troops in Iraq. It comes to me second-hand from Larry Diamond, who served on the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

The main point can be summed up in one word, “Somalia”. The problem with withdrawing the troops is the same problem we had back then, that the country would destabilize and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people would die. (As an aside, the same characters who are refusing to “cut and run” now wanted to back then, and vice-versa. It appears that politicians only want to get out of wars the other side started.) Somalia is the only place in the world (besides Antarctica) that has no government. It is in a perpetual state of civil war. 25% of children don’t see the ripe old age of five. It is hell. If we leave Iraq now, it will end up like Somalia.

Look at it this way, if we leave Iraq, we’ll create another Darfur (we didn’t actually make Darfur into what it is now, but the situation there would be very similar to the one in Iraq). The same thing will happen, with one ethnic group massacring the other. If we pull out, without any kind of stabilizing force in our place, the Mahdi Army (the Shiite militias run by Sadr) will sweep into Baghdad and kill all the Sunnis. That’s five million people, nearly another Holocaust. Every day I see T-shirts and fliers saying “Help Darfur!” The very same people would almost certainly want to pull out of Iraq and condemn all those people to death; they want us to be responsible for another Holocaust.

Beyond the fact that five million people would die, the country would have no stabilizing force. It could quite easily start a regional war. It wouldn’t take much for Iran to go in. If the Muslim countries starting fighting each other, there’s a decent chance that Israel could fly off the handle and get into the fight (it’s happened for less). This situation is more speculative, but it’s definitely possible that pulling out right now would lead to a Middle-East brawl. No one wants that.

I understand that no one wants to be there. It seems pointless. It seems stupid. And it was. We overthrew a stable government for no good reason, which is completely and totally stupid. Our leaders were incompetent, we took many missteps, most of which trace back to Rumsfeld, Cheney, Bush, or Bremer. We shouldn’t be there because we never should have invaded. But we can’t leave now, not yet. There’s still too much at stake, and we have to wait until there’s some form of stable government. I know people will disagree with me, but remember, five million people, innocent people who have done nothing wrong, will likely die if we leave too soon, will die because of our actions. Just remember that when talking about withdrawing from Iraq.

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  • The invasion was a complete scam for oil, we must leave post hatse to repudiate that kind of cynical warmongering. And I don't see how it can get worse, frankly. There's no working government ALREADY, and nobody actually believes that we're going to pull this off. The only question is, will we be able to force Bush to withdraw, or will it happen the day after he leaves office?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 10:36 AM, May 10, 2007  

  • I'm glad someone with some sense is speaking up - I hope that if you were a senator/congressman you would IMPEACH and hold the troops where they are needed.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:33 AM, May 10, 2007  

  • There is no military solution to this. The insurgents can do this forever and we can't. Instead of withdrawing however, we should take our approx. 160,000 troops and sieze & secure the oilfields south of Bagdad. Then use oil revenue as a bargaining chip to force a political solution. We will release oil revenue only to a stable government that has the support of all the people. Meanwhile our people are not getting killed in someone elses civil war. Now we can do this forever and they can't.

    By Blogger jhmrik, at 12:06 PM, May 10, 2007  

  • So how long will we need to stay for 5 million to have died? At the rate things are going I would say another 2 or 3 years ought to do it.

    The area was stable before we got involved. Every death in the last 4 years is the direct responsibility of the U.S. government.

    The stated objective for going in was to overthrow Sadam, make sure there were no WMD's, and hold elections to create a new government. Those objectives have been met. It's time to leave, if they kill each other off that's a problem for the U.N. to try to resolve.

    Too many Americans have died already. You can't fix an error in judgement by continuing the same stupid mistakes.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 12:34 PM, May 10, 2007  

  • First anonymous, establishing a stable government is possible. It might not be a democracy, but it is definitely possible, even if it is somewhere over the horizon.

    Mike, I don't think that the casualty count is anywhere near 3 million, where it would need to be for us to hit 5 million in 2-3 years. The number of troops we've lost isn't anywhere near that level. And I said that the war was stupid, and that overthrowing stable governments is stupid. I'm perfectly well aware how idiotic Bush is, and I know that the handling of the war was mangled (I said those things in the article, too). But my point is just is pulling out now worth 5 million lives? I didn't even give my answer to it, I just put forth the argument. I'm pretty sure that we have some responsibility to keep those people safe, otherwise we'll be directly responsible for killings on a scale of the Holocaust, which is unacceptable.

    There is no palatable solution to the quagmire we're in, and that's just the unfortunate situation.

    By Blogger Stupac2, at 12:52 PM, May 10, 2007  

  • Iraq would have been better off if the US had left immediately after Saddam was deposed, and let the rest of the administration to sort itself out. Then hand in some regular aid, and it would have been alright.

    For the moment, it is still practical to buy off the various sects, for instance, through a peace dividend for the Iraqi police, Al-Mahdi and the Sunni militias when incidences of bombings are reduced.

    By Anonymous Chui Tey, at 3:50 PM, May 10, 2007  

  • a very coherent argument, and i'm very glad you posted it. intelligent discussion is always valuable.

    i, however, disagree primarily because i am outright offended by the fact that so many of our own young men and women are being sacrificed, and that we're causing the deaths of many more thousands of Iraqis.

    we have already destabilized the region, and we're making things worse. too much blood is already on our hands, more will surely follow regardless of what we do now, but i honestly can't believe that our continued presence can do anything but cause more unrest.

    thanks for letting me put in my 2 cents.

    By Anonymous kaioti, at 9:56 PM, May 10, 2007  

  • It might make sense to invade Somalia.

    By Blogger Joseph, at 1:05 PM, May 16, 2007  

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