Sunday, July 02, 2006

Cut and Run in Iraq?

Cut and Run or Keep Shooting Ourselves in the Other Foot?

Paschal Baute, July 2, 2006

The almost 3,000 tiny waving flags on the ground at Thoroughbred Park this weekend are a stunning reminder of the human cost of the Iraqi war so far. Would Americans have supported attacking Iraq three years ago if we had know how much it would cost in lives and dollars, the strength of the violent insurgency, and how little weapons of mass destruction Saddam actually had? Recent polls show fewer would have done so.

What is to be done now? An abrupt withdrawal might embolden Al Qaeda types, says Bush, weaken resolve of other nations to stand up to Islamic fascisim, cause people to lose nerve and not stay strong. But would leaving show weakness?

This invasion has won the USA many enemies, likely multiplied them, cost hundreds of billions of dollars, distracted us from other presssing issues in North Korea, Iran, and other places, including the growing poverty, immigration issues and other problems such as health care at home.

There is now a civil war between Islamics factions, with killings daily. We do not have resources to stop a civil war. Every American helicopter is a reminder to the Islamic fascists in a tribal society of an unjust occupation. Is there more to be gained by a stubborn pursuit of unreasonable objectives there?

In 1966, George Kennan, the realistic architect of our Cold War "Containment" policy, testified before Congress on Vietnam. He argued for a peace settlement which took the Nixon administration another nine years to get around to, finally in 1975. The delay cost us another 25,000 American lives and that black scar that is the Vietnam Memorial.

"Cut and Run?" Republican Hawks criticizing the Demos last week, while the Commanding General there called for troop reductions. The answer Keenan gave in 1966 was simply this: Just because the US has shot itself in one foot did not mean that it should fire away at the other.

Our continued presence in Iraq is gaining nothing and one of the reasons for the continuing violence. Iraqis now must settle their own affairs, and if they go through a terrible civil war to find unity, then so did we.

Reference: "Mirror Image" Could Iraq be Vietnam in reverse. What George F Kennan’s 1966 Senate testimony cn tell us about Iraq in 2006. By Nicholas Thompson, July 1, Boston Globe, also published on Common Dreams website. Also Wikipedia. George F. Keenan.

Two Further statements from Keenan relevant here::

At age 98, he warned of the unforeseen consequences of waging war against Iraq. He warned that launching an attack on Iraq would amount to waging a second war that "bears no relation to the first war against terrorism" and declared efforts by the Bush administration to link al Qaeda with Saddam Hussein "pathetically unsupportive and unreliable." Kennan went on to warn:

"Anyone who has ever studied the history of American diplomacy, especially military diplomacy, knows that you might start in a war with certain things on your mind as a purpose of what you are doing, but in the end, you found yourself fighting for entirely different things that you had never thought of before... In other words, war has a momentum of its own and it carries you away from all thoughtful intentions when you get into it. Today, if we went into Iraq, like the president would like us to do, you know where you begin. You never know where you are going to end." (reference Wikipedia)

When American policymakers suddenly confronted the Cold War, Keenan wrote, they had inherited little more than rationale and rhetoric "utopian in expectations, legalistic in concept, moralistic in [the] demand it seemed to place on others, and self-righteous in the degree of high-mindedness and rectitude... to ourselves." The source of the problem, according to Kennan, is the force of public opinion, a force that is inevitably unstable, unserious, subjective, emotional, and simplistic. As a result, Kennan has insisted that the U.S. public can only be united behind a foreign policy goal on the "primitive level of slogans and jingoistic ideological inspiration."

Keenan was the intellectual architext of the Marshal Plan.


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