Thursday, July 06, 2006

A One-Eighty on Iraq



I didn't think I'd ever toss in the towel on Iraq. I'm a good Republican and a veteran. I consider myself a flaming patriot. But I think we have reached the point where our goals aren't worth the cost. In fact, I'm not sure the goals are attainable.

We dethroned, caught, and imprisoned Saddam. In retrospect, at that point we should have exited, stage left. Our goals, if I understand them correctly, were to eliminate WMD, eliminate Sadam's rule, allow Iraq to set up a democratic government, and cut the core out of Al Qaeda.

Well, the matter of WMD turned out to be less of an issue there than we thought. We put Saddam in Lew Sterrett, Baghdad. So let's look at the other two issues. Bush seems adamant that we can eventually exit Iraq when they've got a democracy running all cylinders. My worry is that, governmentally-speaking, Iraq will never be able to even gas the car. These folks seem incapable of doing anything other than chunking rocks and waving their fists in the air. And the trouble is, the U.S. has committed so much effort, money, and blood there that a graceful exit is no longer possible.

The other sticky point is our effort to drive a stake through the heart of terrorism with our presence in Iraq. I'm not privy to CIA intelligence and I don't know for sure just how many Al Qaeda operatives are based there. But at this point, I'm willing to concede Iraq and save the lives of our young military men and women. I think their expertise could better be used along the U.S./Mexico border. I hate to think that while our focus has been on Iraq, our back door has been compromised.

Lyndon Johnson allowed Vietnam to become personal and his stubbornness prolonged the war unnecessarily. George Bush may have reached that point. He doesn't seem to grasp the "unwinability" of the war in Iraq and, like LBJ, lets his Texan pride cloud his otherwise reasonable judgment.

It's gonna be messy whether we stay or leave. I say pull out now and save precious lives. As bad as it would make America look, the reward would be worth it.

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