Thursday, May 8, 2008

Candidates All Wrong on Iraq

Each of the leading Presidential candidates is completely wrong when it comes to their Iraq war policy. Here's just a tidbit of err:

John McCain hopes to keep the same troop levels and be in Iraq for 100 years. Having been on the ground, I've been able to witness the devastating side effects on troops who are continuing to be cycled through on multiple deployments. I've also observed that many hundreds, in my view, could stay at home. Every single person is important. If just one person could avoid a rotation to Iraq, that would bless his/her life immensely, as well as his/her family and children. Allowing a greater recuperation period would help with mental health issues, and may even help the decision to re-enlist or not. At the current deployment rate, I haven't met many troops eager to stay in the military.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton want to withdraw immediately from Iraq. Doing so would cripple the stability we've gained here in the region. Consider the international security implications of a rapid withdrawal: The Shi'ites, Sunnis and Kurds would likely start a serious civil war without coalition mediators. Iran and their henchmen, Hezbollah, et al, would side with the Shi'ites or perhaps just invade carte blanche. The entire area would destabilize. If you think the gas prices are high now, imagine what would occur if neighboring states tried to grab a piece of the land.

I've met Iraqis. I've seen them wave and smile to us while driving or flying by. I've spoken with them and have listened to them. They want peace, and they need that little extra help we can offer them.

Former reasons for war aside, we are here now -- so now what?

Well, even if the Dems take the upcoming election, I don't believe an entire withdrawal is likely, despite what the candidates are verbalizing. It's highly likely that there will be a U.S. presence here for a long, long time. And, if the next president decides to pull troops and assets out too quickly, the results could be cataclysmic. On that note, a fixed time table for withdrawal is risky, for stability and security reasons, that is if the pull back is substantial in number.

Further, Mrs. Clinton wants to get rid of all private security contractors as well. That'd simply burden the military all the more. Despite the occasional mishap, which has also occurred with the Marines in Haditha or the Army in Abu Ghraib, private security forces are, for the most part, great assets of professional caliber.

Keeping our current troop levels and operational tempo in Iraq seems unnecessary and will incur harmful affects in our national security, not to mention the toll of war on individuals and families. We can afford to pull back a little without jeopardizing serious loss. "Staying the course," as it's often referred to as, will continue to burden an already stretched out and demoralized military.

We need a happy-medium: We need to slowly get out of Iraq while, at a minimum, maintaining the current stability of the region. If followed through, all this bickering and political positioning on the "Iraq debate" left and right, respectively, could lead Iraq and our own country down more difficult paths.

Lastly, getting out of Iraq is like backing up from a tiger that's ready to pounce, it needs to be done carefully and with great caution. If you turn and run, you'll be lunch and if you don't you'll get mauled. Finally, "playing dead" just isn't an option Americans want. Besides, this is a real war, and real people die.

No comments: