One of Barack Obama's mantras on the campaign trail about Iraq has been: "We should be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were reckless getting into Iraq." But, is his failure to admit that the surge is working and to listen to the Generals on the ground and to back off of his commitment to a 16-month withdrawal from Iraq (from the day he takes office) a "careful" or a "reckless" path? And, is he missing the bigger reasons why being in Iraq is a paramount necessity to our security and the security of the Middle East as a whole?
I think missing in all this anti-war stuff is the fact that Iraq is a central player to the stability in the Middle East. Iraq under Saddam "was" a "destabilizing" factor in the area; an area of constant tensions. With Saddam at the helm, Iraq was a thorn that could easily threaten Kuwait and Iran (which it did), Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, and Jordan; countries with whom all share borders with Iraq. Much of the world's oil (and a key to the survival of the world's economies) would have been at risk in this overall geographic area and with Saddam in charge. People seem to forget his years of war with Iran and his invasion of Kuwait and the near complete destruction of their oil fields. Could the religious and oil rich jewel of that area,Saudi Arabia, have been Saddam's next goal?
As today's democracy, Iraq could act as a stabilizing buffer between all these countries. It could be the shinning example that stimulates the spread of Democracy in that region. But, a premature leaving of our troops from this country could erase all of that. The years of our fighting in that country would all be for naught. We could easily have another puppet country in the Middle East like Lebanon. A puppet that, this time, would receive its directions from the radical and highly unstable Iranian regime.
Iraq is "strategic" to the whole mental and physical health in that area. That's why, except on token occasions to satisfy internal public opinion, you haven't really heard a lot of anger being expressed by neighboring countries over our being in Iraq. The only negative commentary that you ever really hear is typically out of Syria and Iran; and, neither of these countries are to be considered the "good neighbors" in that region.
We should never forget the wrath that Saddam, the Sunni, inflicted upon the Shiites and Kurds of Iraq. A killing field of at least 400,000 people; found in mass graves throughout the country. And, we should never forget the sadistic brutality that was brought against women, men, and children at the hands of Saddam's sons. Doesn't the killing of probably 40,000 people per year in Iraq by Saddam and his sons warrant some intervention by America? Are we so hardened against any war that we can't take any pride in probably saving thousand upon thousand of lives that would have died under any further rule by Saddam Hussein? I realize that deaths occurred because of our invasion. But most of those came from insurgents and Al Qaeda against their own Arab brethren. We didn't go into Iraq to kill civilians. In fact, with smart bombs, etc. we try to make our killing a focus as possible on the enemy and not civilians. No other country in this worldtakes these steps or has the technology to do the same thing.
Obama uses the term "reckless" to describe our entry into the Iraq War. Lost in "his" recollection of lead-up to that war were the months of Security Council resolutions and statements and the months that this country gave Iraq to comply with those resolutions and a return the weapons inspectors. Obama seems to forget that it was France, Germany, and Russia that colluded in blocking any actions against Iraq because of their own, selfish and economic ties with that country. People and, especially, Mr. Obama seem to forget that Congressional approval to go to war was obtained by President Bush in October 2002. The actual invasion wasn't until March of 2003. During those nearly five months, Iraq was given chance after chance to abide by the U.N. resolutions against him. War could have been averted at any time. It was all up to Saddam. Instead, Saddam used this time to hide whatever WMD's he had and to fortify his country in advance of the war. This was no "sneak attack" on Iraq and, I'm sorry, with all the "escape clauses" available to Saddam, it was not being reckless!
To me, an unwavering deadline of 16 months to leave Iraq is "reckless" and hardly careful. A retreat (and that's what this is) can be as dangerous to our troops as it was when they entered that country. As we dwindle-down our troop's numbers, there we be "less" and "less" protection for the troops that remain. The term "strength in numbers" isn't some kind of idle concept. It is a reality that has been proven over and over, again. We should only leave Iraq when the "Iraqi armed forces" have the strength, training, and the numbers to "cover" our remaining troops in the same fashion that they would have been protected by our own troops. That's what's missing in Barack's dictatorial and arbitrary withdrawal plan. To lead means to have the wherewithal to adjust to conditions as they change; not to blindly commit to some politically advantageous end point that the far-left of the Democratic party dictates.
It may very well be that a 16-month time frame for withdrawal is doable. I wrote about this in a recent blog entry (See Full Story). But, maybe, 2 years or 2-1/2 years is more appropriate based on what is happening in Iraq in January 2009. But, there is no mention of that type of "flexibility" coming our of Obama's mouth. You tell me. Is "not" having flexibility in judgment a trait of being a "careful" or a "reckless" leader in getting us out of Iraq? What do you think?
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