"Stay The Course" A Victory For Iran & Nth. Korea

Published: Mon 30 Oct 2006 12:00 AM
"Stay The Course" Is A Victory For Iran And North Korea
By José María Rodríguez González
Leaving right after toppling Saddam Hussein would have preserved the United States' role as liberator and left the destiny of the Iraqis in their own hands. Saddam Hussein could not retake power because his heavy armament was destroyed, his army was dismantled and dispersed, and the Shia’s militias would stop him. The USA has only to keep order, protect the Iraqi citizens and their properties, change military and police leadership, and to establish a Shia-Sunni-Kurd coalition government to initiate the democratic process supported and aided by the guidance, expertise and friendship of U.S.
Leaving immediately following Iraq's first democratic elections after toppling Saddam Hussein, preserved order and defended the coalition government would have preserved our role as liberators and rooters of democracy.
Leaving as soon as Iraq had its new constitution would have at least preserved our role as supporters of the rule of law for Iraq.
Leaving right after the independent Iraqi government was installed was our last chance to preserve our image as guardians of the transition process, rather than guests who have stayed too long and spoiled freedom’s party.
Having missed these opportunities, we were left to witness the minority Sunnis attempting to retake power by force. As an ethnic minority in a place where political and ethnic lines coincide, they realize they can never regain power democratically, because they are and will be a minority. We have missed the opportunity to cooperate with this group, who has a secular rapport. The Shia, supported by their co-religionists in Iran, furiously defends democracy because it legalizes their majority of power. By leaving, the U.S. will uncover Iraq’s civil war. A civil war that was and is inevitable and will continue, with or without U.S. presence.
The Shia wants the U.S. to stay in Iraq to crush the insurgency of their enemies, the Sunni. Sunnis want us to stay to crush the militias of their enemies, the Shia. Like pawns in their political and military game, we fight them both. Whoever wins does not want us on Iraqi soil. Defending their own land, they have an advantage. We will be left to be kicked out in humiliation, by the Sunni, the Shia, or both.
Before this freedom’s party collapses, it is better to leave and instead assume the honorable role of mediator from the outside. We have to stop this unnecessary waste of our soldiers in counterproductive operations that leave them open to constants attacks and losses, and leaves the U.S. in a hemorrhage of money, blood, resources, and frustrated projects that cannot be finished properly.
A U.S. withdrawal from Iraq could be called a victory by al-Qaeda. Could that harm us more than our continued presence, which most security experts, including those in the 16 U.S. security agencies, NIE, say has created an al-Qaeda recruitment boom and a terrorist training ground? In the event that the answer is yes, we could re-invade Iraq.
The idea that our departure from Iraq would cause the Sunni insurgency, the Shia militia, and al-Qaeda to suddenly come by air and sea to fight us on American soil does not make sense. Insurgents, militias, and terrorists would call our departure a victory, but that’s a lesser wrong than to continue the current Iraq policy that is squandering and wasting blood, money, and our international prestige and cooperation in a political dead end brought to us by Bush, neocons, and "conservative" Republicans. This blind policy is pushing the U.S. toward a future as a power untrusted for its exaggerations and whose influence is received with isolation. Every day it’s clearer that Bush's current course is increasing the danger to the U.S. and the world. The time to change course is now.
Our continued presence in Iraq serves Iran, keeping U.S. troops in conveniently close range for quick targets of easy monitoring and retaliation by Iranian cells and camouflage suicide brigades in Iraq, if Iran's nuclear facilities are bombed. A U.S. departure from Iraq would keep our soldiers from being taken hostage or killed following an attack on Iran.
Staying near to Iran in order to attack it with an overextended, harassed and surrounded army is not an intelligent tactic. We must leave Iraq as soon as possible to relocate our troops and regain the ability to deter Iran and North Korea, if necessary..
Contrary to what Iran and North Korea say they want U.S. troops bogged down and overextended in Iraq as long as possible. It is obvious that they want to fuel anti-U.S.
animosity to the maximum. Given, however, that insurgencies require an invading force, the withdrawal of that force is likely enough to help calm the insurgency. That would be a contribution to Iraq’s pacification.
The disadvantage that Sunni insurgents and Shia militias, (and hidden Iran’s strategies), might feel at a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq is not a reason to stay there.
There is agreement with statements by hawks and neocons that terrorists will strike the U. S. in coming years. However, as in Spain and England, it will likely be by Americans themselves, and it is no more likely to happen regardless if we leave Iraq. Tying down soldiers, National Guard and Marines, and money in an opposition-fueling foreign occupation is not the best use of national security, because we need resources to search incoming containers at U.S. ports, or secure chemical plants near cities, not to mention the cost of our collective paranoia on terrorism.
Also there is agreement with President Bush that the U.S. is not secure, although the policies he claims will help improve security are another story. Rewriting the Geneva Conventions is an invitation to every dictator in the world to do the same. Violating privacy guarantees embodied in the American Constitution with his warrantless eavesdropping policy is reminiscent of a police state and useful against political opponents, emulating enemy tyrants and destroying the American way of life. "Preemptive actions" are defiant and anti-diplomatic measures. "You’re either with us or you're with the terrorists" stance kills useful moderates, independents and other valuable opportunities for international cooperation in intelligence and tracking down terrorists.
All of these measures are useless or harmful to world safety, civil and human rights, and the prestige our nation used to enjoy when it defended liberty more than slavery of fear.
The U.S. must leave if it wants to have a prepared, re-located, re-armed and largely rested army available to deter strategic threats from North Korea and Iran. Their goals are furthered by our continued Iraq involvement; which is an obstacle to save or partially redirect the two-and-a-half billion dollars we burn in Iraq each week; and to reduce the growth rate of our trillion-dollar deficit debt to China, Japan and to the European Union.
Although we missed the chance to leave Iraq with honor, we must leave now if we are to deal with the new threats and their expenses. The alternative is to face those threats with an overextended army and depleted resources and still lose to Iraq's Sunnis and Shia.
Enough of this damaging "stay the course." If you are not on a counterproductive, destructive, and disastrous course, the intelligent option is to stop the denial and change course immediately.
* International think tanks’ contributor.

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