Stay Or Go– Which Way America In Iraq?

There is scant doubt violence has declined in Iraq since 30,000 additional American troops were dispatched to that nation earlier this year. But, according to General Joseph Fil, commander of US forces in Baghdad, the progress achieved in recent months is “fledgling, fragile, and not guaranteed.” The additional troops have made it possible to maintain forces in every part of the city, but he believes the situation is far from resolved. “There is absolutely a risk of going too quickly” because leaving “before the Iraqis are truly able to take over these areas independently would be very risky, and there ares some areas in the city where, at this point, it would fail.”

There are now 160,000 American troops in Iraq, a force capable to maintaining order in major cities like Baghdad, but there are still rural areas where the situation is less stable. There was never any doubt placing thousands of American forces in Baghdad would temporarily lessen violence. The central question at all times is what happens when US forces depart? Will Iraqi soldiers be able to keep things under control? Has the Iraq government created a viable coalition of political parties which can work together for peace and stability? The answers to these questions is an unqualified, no. Are al-Qaeda and other insurgents lurking in the shadows prepared to resume violence once American troops leave? Chances are the answer is an unqualified, yes. The surge will not work until Iraq has made political strides to go along with military. A political issue for Americans is how long with people in this nation go along with a major military presence in Iraq?

  • Brian Beiner

    I would like to make an attempt to answer your last question with regards to how will the American people go along with a major military presence in Iraq. If the American people understand the consequences of a premature withdrawal from Iraq, they will support a long term presence to establish a fully functional Iraqi government and military that operates independently of American assistance. I believe the consequences of a premature withdrawal will include, but not limited to the following: Iraq descending into chaos and bloodshed as Al Qaeda establishes a new Islamic state, tremendous loss of American prestige in the world, and the introducing of a new generation of bitter and frustrated veterans who will believe their valiant efforts and sacrifice were ultimately for nothing.
    President Bush must make a very compelling case to a war- weary public of what is at stake in Iraq. He must explain that to deny Islamic terrorist control of Iraq, our long-term commitment to Iraq must equal the same level as post-WWII Germany, Japan, and South Korea, with units permanently stationed there and Soldiers rotating in and out on a regular basis. In retrospect, Bush should have explained to the American people in the very beginning that Iraq was going to be a long term (meaning 20 years or more, at least) investment in American military manpower and financial investment. Although there is no time to discuss why he failed to do that, I personally believe he was mislead by the intelligence community and Iraqi exiles who did not warn him of the threat of an insurgency after Saddam Hussein was overthrown.
    As a company commander during OIF I, I thought the war will be done in a couple of months, never imagining that the U.S. would be drawn into a major counter-insurgency operation lasting for over five years. Our military has gone through a very painful process in bringing order to Iraq and has performed magnificently in the most difficult circumstances. Americans must understand the importance of maintaining a long-term presence in Iraq in order to keep the country on the road to a secure and prosperous future as well as to ensure the sacrifices of our service members were not made in vain.

    MAJ Brian Beiner
    Command and General Staff College
    Fort Leavenworth, Kansas

  • Fred Stopsky

    I believe it was former captain Harry Truman who said, “the buck stops here.” You make a compelling argument for remaining in Iraq but your comments excusing the blunders of President Bush are inexcusable. President Bush lied to the American people and he lied to members of the armed forces. There were no WMD and Saddam had nothing to do with al-Qaeda. I assume you know that much.
    The fight was in Afghanistan to eliminate the Taliban and create stable economic, social and political conditions. Bush failed to do this by refocusing the fight against non-existant enemies. Have you forgotten General Shinseki’s request for more troops that your beloved Bush turned down?
    Now, as for remaining there for twenty years, Iraq is no Germany or France or England. I do not urge any immediate withdrawal, but a continued American presence in a Muslim Iraq is a recipe for disaster. I advocate creation of a Muslim Legion drawn from Turkey, Morocco, Iran, Egypt and Jordan which would assume control as American forces depart. I have no problem with American air and naval support as long as command is vested in an Arab leader.
    You apparently forget Iran supported the US invasion of Afghanistan and quietly offered to halt aid to terrorist groups and work for peace in the Middle East but your incompetent president turned down Iranian moderates. I have great respect for members of the military, but your excuses for incompetence and ignorance leave much to be desired. Perhaps, if your beloved Bush had consulted with a wide range of experts on the Middle East and insurgency there would be no tragedy in Iraq and thousands of our fine young men and women would be alive.

  • Brian Beiner

    You are right to say, in your quote from Harry Truman, that President Bush does bear the responsibility of the flawed policy in Iraq from 2003-2006. The following are two of the blatant shortcomings that, I believe, have tremendously hampered our effort in Iraq:

    -Not sending enough military forces to Iraq during OIF I to help in the transition from combat operations to stability operations (establishing a new government, restoring of essential services, etc.) as General Shinseki recommended in 2002.
    -Disbanding the Iraqi military which could have been used to help restore law and order. The decision to disband the Iraqi army was a tremendous mistake, creating in what later became the recruiting base for the insurgency.

    I say this to tell you that I am not making excuses for Bush, even though he is my commander in chief. However, to be completely fair, I believe he was acting on the advice of his National Security Advisors (primarily the CIA director, Mr. Tenet and Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld) that Saddam Hussein was an immediate threat and the Iraqi people would welcome us as liberators and would help us establish a peaceful and democratic Iraq with all ethnic groups living in harmony. Invading Iraq with those two assumptions proved disastrous in trying to win the peace after our forces captured Baghdad.

    Bush, as any CEO, political and organizational leader would do, assessed and, of course, believed the information his subject matter experts provided him. That information was obviously compelling enough for him and Congress to authorize the invasion of Iraq. If I was president, I would have fired both Mr. Tenet and Mr. Rumsfeld for their flawed intelligence and assumptions, once I knew Congress and I were duped in believing the existence of WMDs and my forces were completely engaged in a full-fledged insurgency.

    But my entire point is that Iraq, using the popular cliché “it is what it is!” We should stay the course in Iraq to ensure a fully functional government, military, and public works infrastructure in order to give the Iraqis a brighter future. If it means we can get a moderate Muslim alliance to help us (as you suggested), then so be it, but I don’t know if their leaders will go along with that idea. I just do not want all the efforts of our forces and our allies to be for nothing.

  • Fred Stopsky

    The British government has just released the original first draft statement that was given Prime Minister Tony Blair. There is NO mentiion in the first draft of any Weapons of Mass Destruction. There is no mention of any capability on the part of Saddam to attack the United States or Britain.
    There is one reason why Bush did not nor would he ever fire Rumsfeld. Don Rumsfeld was carrying out orders of President Bush. You have things turned upside down. Tenet was giving Bush what Bush wanted, it’s not the other way around. Bush wanted to invade, and his underlings gave him further reason to do so. I suspect you are quite aware of the pressure placed on subordinates to tell the boss what he wants to hear.
    I also want a stable democratic government in Iraq. The Israel government is presently considering asking Turkey, Jordan, and Qatar to provide troops to stabilize Gaza. Why not an Arab Legion to assist the Iraq government in stablizing Iraq? I want US troops out because their continued presence destabilizes the Middle East.
    Just to make clear, I do not wish any precipitous withdrawal of American forces. I prefer as they step out, Muslim troops step in. We must get American troops out as soon as it is humanly possible.