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Iraq: Withdraw or Stand Firm?

by Michael DiMercurio, [IMAGE]2006

ARTICLE ORIGINALLY APPEARED AT MILITARY.COM, August 01, 2006

[IMAGE] Sentiment opposing the American involvement in Iraq is escalating among both parties, and the anti-war movement is approaching that of the Vietnam War era. In light of the decaying security situation in Baghdad, should American forces be withdrawn or should they remain committed?

Let’s first take a trip back to 2003. Saddam Hussein had been threatening the region and heaping disrespect on the U.S. After finding out there were no WMDs in Saddam’s hands, people tend to think that Saddam was just a windbag. Perhaps, but U.S. foreign policy becomes ineffective in the face of an unanswered insult. The proof of that statement is Iran, 1979. After the Islamic Revolution, Islamic radicals attacked and took the American Embassy and seized the American staff as hostages, and held them captive for over a year. The front page news of the hostages eroded American political and military influence for years. Jimmy Carter’s weak and ineffective response to the hostage crisis lost him the 1980 election.

So here we have an aggressive anti-American dictator, rattling his saber and threatening American interests and refusing to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors who were there to ensure that Iraq had shut down its nuclear weapons programs. What’s a responsible military power to do? Particularly in light of the despicable human rights violations of this dictator and touchy fact that he sat on a huge field of oil that could enhance or damage the American economy?

The meetings in the White House Situation Room must have pondered four issues –

  • the expedient thing to do for effective foreign policy (so as not to have another Iranian hostage fiasco)
  • the politically correct thing to do (so as not to lose an election)
  • the tactically correct thing to do (so as not to lose a war)
  • the economically correct thing to do (because of all the oil there)
  • I believe the economic issue of the oil in Iraq tipped the scales of risk versus benefit of invading. Sacking Saddam was a huge payoff to President Bush because Bush Sr. stopped short of attacking Baghdad in the Persian Gulf War, and history showed that quitting early caused more problems than it solved.

    So invading Iraq was attractive because in one blow we could boldly knock over Saddam for the political victory and control the oil in Iraq for the economic victory.

    And at first, the policy was a smashing success. But after the declaration of “Mission Accomplished,” America finds itself wearing bullseyes for snipers and terrorists in an unending occupation. Could there be a worse quagmire? There is no winning an occupation in hostile territory. There is no future in it except getting shot at and losing face overseas. And losing votes back home.

    So let’s withdraw. After all, if there is nothing in it for us but political embarrassment domestically and abroad, why don’t we execute a withdrawal strategy? A withdrawal strategy could look like this: First, set up a government of locals, a coalition parliament and executive branch (done). Then train the Iraqi army and police forces (almost done). Then establish security long enough that our troops, weapons and equipment can be evacuated without being attacked. Then withdraw the security forces.

    But the opposition to this idea would say that if we withdraw, the new Iraqi government would be toppled by a new radical Islamic revolution. Then Shiite forces sympathetic to Iraq and Hezbollah would take over. And then Iraq would become a stronghold for terrorists who want to further the war against America. And then Iran and a fallen Iraq would cooperate to nurture their fledgling nuclear weapon programs.

    That argument is needlessly alarmist. If we knocked over a regime once, we can do it again. Now that we’ve proved to Iraq and the world that if we want to roll our tanks through Baghdad any time we want, we can withdraw and use diplomacy and threats to our advantage. And that way no sons or daughters of American voters are getting killed in a pointless occupation.

    But wait – what about the vast oil fields that motivated us to take this risk in the first place? Can we really leave them behind, in the hands of forces who are our sworn enemies? In the face of $4 a gallon gasoline, wouldn’t that be a bad idea?

    Obviously the oil companies want U.S. troops to remain in Iraq, and that economic pressure is keeping us there at a time when our forces are at risk.

    It’s particularly difficult because our national energy policy has gotten tangled with our foreign policy. If not for the oil, it is possible that the Iraq occupation by U.S. forces would have been long over, assuming we invaded at all.

    So how do we get of Iraq with our dignity and not have a costly energy crisis?

    In the short term, we can’t. In the long term, America is the Saudi Arabia of coal. Technologies are already proven for making coal into synthetic gas and liquid fuel, and when crude oil runs low enough that it becomes unduly expensive, we’ll put this technology in the field and become a net exporter of fuel to the world. That’s two decades in the future, however.

    In the meantime, we’d better get to work drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska and ramping up production, with apologies to the environmentalists.

    Or we can continue to get shot at in the streets of Baghdad.

    * * *

    FINGER ON THE TRIGGER DEPARTMENT

    Hezbollah forces are lobbing missiles into Israel. Hezbollah is closely connected to the Shiite Muslims controlling Iran. The Iranians would like to unite all Muslims from Africa to India. Could this July 12 outbreak of hostilities in the Middle East be the leading edge of a larger conflict? And if so, what should U.S. policy be? And what is covert U.S. policy now? Are we truly staying out of this, or are we quietly encouraging violence behind the scenes?

    With Iran thumbing its nose at the U.N. sanctions for continuing their nuclear weapons program, does this conflict give American military planners an opening to strike at Iran on a pretext?

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    MORE! On VERTICAL DIVE

    VERTICAL DIVE:
    As hurricane Helen barrels in toward the Virginia coastline, the U.S. Navy’s Commander-in-Chief Atlantic Fleet orders all vessels to scramble to sea, including Burke Dillinger’s Hampton and Peter Vornado’s Texas.

    But this is no mere storm evacuation.

    There is something sinister going on in the eastern Atlantic. The Navy’s eyes are on the ballistic missile submarine force, the “boomer” submarines loaded to the gills with intercontinental nuclear warheads. And the French boomer submarine Le Vigilant has “gone bad,” hijacked by an Algerian terrorist with dreams of completing the circle of revenge and using French nuclear weapons on the French who killed his father.

    As terrorist Issam Zauabri’s forces learn how to employ the nuclear missiles, Vornado’s Texas and Dillinger’s Hampton close in on the threat, but Issam knows how to use torpedoes as well as he does the missiles, and Le Vigilant is one of the quietest submarines ever built. Once the American subs are on the bottom, his attack can proceed on Paris, but since it was Americans who interfered, Issam will save one missile for New York…

    “Compelling and visionary. DiMercurio’s characters run as deep as his submarines themselves!”

    --Joe Buff, author of Straits Of Power, Tidal Rip, Crush Depth, Thunder in the Deep, And Deep Sound Channel.

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    terminalrun.com
    Michael DiMercurio
    Princeton, New Jersey
    E-mail:
    readermail@terminalrun.com

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