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Posted by on Mar 24, 2008 in War | 8 comments

Waiting For 5,000




Anybody remember these numbers?

I don’t, and for that I’m a bit ashamed.

But 4,000, well, that one seems to give us pause. For some reason the sight of three zeros makes us turn our necks long enough to pay attention, ask more questions and continue to find few real answers.

So here’s my question on the anniversary of this 4th set of three zeros: Was it worth it?

And more broadly, how has the Bush administration demonstrated that this war has:

  1. been worth the cost in lives,
  2. been worth diverting attention and resources away from domestic issues,
  3. been worth diverting our attention away from other foreign policy issues,
  4. and made us any safer?

The only tangible benefits seem to be that a bad dictator is gone and people have been freed. Fair enough. These are good things.

But Saddam was a bad guy who had no ties to al Qaeda. And, forgive me for being cruel, but it’s not up to us to make sure the entire world is free. If that were the case, we would have started with Darfur, not Iraq.

Here are some sobering facts for Iraq right now. 25 soldiers died in the last two weeks. There’s news that the Iraqis we’ve hired to fight al Qaeda haven’t been paid yet and are dangerously close to quitting. Violence across the country claimed the lives of 58 citizens over the weekend. But the worst news? The breathing room our troops gave the Iraqi government via the surge strategy is being wasted.

Another fact that seems to get missed in all these discussions…our intelligence estimates say that al Qaeda is stronger than ever before.

This is why more and more Americans don’t accept the premise that, if we stay there, things are going to get fixed and, if we leave, everything is going to go south. What we’re all starting to collectively realize is that the longer we’re in Iraq, the more chances there are for things to go wrong both there AND here. And what a continued presence in Iraq will most likely result in is we’ll have less say in how we’ll ultimately exit the country. Because we will exit at some point. We all know this. The only way we can control our own destiny here is to set realistic timetables and stick to them.

And yes, al Qaeda will claim victory, but I say let them think they’ve defeated us. Let them believe we’re tucking our tail between our legs. Let them put out their inane little videos. People, just because they say it doesn’t make it true.

Does anybody think if we pull out of Iraq that we’re going to stop tracking down al Qaeda heavies? Does anybody believe the broader fight against the Islamic extremists is going to stop? In fact, now we can start this shadow war in earnest and allocate our vast resources to that fight instead of continuing to throw billions down a hole in Iraq. Can you imagine how many top al Qaeda we could have captured by now using those resources that lay at the bottom of that hole?

Also, is it just me or have we forgotten that we won the war against Saddam and Iraq? Seriously, it was won. Saddam was defeated. We just haven’t been able to secure peace. The difference between those two things is very significant, and I think most of us are accepting the reality that there’s no way we’ll be able to stem the insurgent violence completely. So the fact that Bush and McCain continue to say that withdrawal means “defeat” just shows you how ass backwards our current foreign policy reasoning has become. Again, we all know we have to get out of Iraq at some point, so who’s truly setting us up to fail, the “Defeatocrats” or the “Republican’ts”?

It’s time to go. The sooner the better. Otherwise, we’ll be meeting back here in about a year and talking about the lives that were forever changed between now and 5,000.

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