Well this has been an odd week with regards to Iraq… We have President Bush telling us the reasons to stay and the House voting to go. Mind you, the House doesn’t have the power to do that without the Senate’s help, making it something of a symbolic vote.
Still, bearing in mind the Republican senators who have recently come out against the war, I can’t help but wonder how long it will be before the Senate has a majority for pulling out.
Of course, Bush’s inevitable veto of any resolution of that kind means that they’ll have to have more than a majority. They’ll need two-thirds of the Senate to actually succeed.
That’ll be more of a challenge.
Bush’s Characterization of Withdrawal
I found it interesting to listen to Bush’s characterization of the question of withdrawal. He described it as an argument between those who believed we could succeed and those who believed success was impossible.
I can’t speak for everyone who wants to withdraw, but I don’t believe that success is impossible. I believe that success is possible but that the Bush administration has never put in the necessary resources to succeed and that they have no intention of doing so since it would mean tripling the number of troops we’ve currently got there.
Bearing in mind that success is improbable with the resources that they are willing to put in, I’m inclined to think that withdrawal is the better option.
Abandoning Iraq to Al-Queda?
As much as Bush points out that we are fighting Al-Queda in Iraq, it’s worth mentioning that while Al-Queda does exist in Iraq, there’s also an organization called “Al Queda in Iraq.” It’s not directly controlled by Al-Queda and is more of an Iraqi franchise than something controlled by Bin Laden.
So, we’re not really fighting Al-Queda in the classic 911 sense.
What’s unfortunate though is that Bush is right that abandoning Iraq to it’s own devices shows a certain irresponsibility. We’ve made a big mess there and owe the Iraqis help in cleaning it up.
Sadly, our presence there generates a certain amount of violence by it’s very existence. Also unfortunate? The fact that pulling out would remove whatever good effects we’re having there. I’m thinking specifically that we prevent some Sunni/Shia violence and help preserve some semblance of order in places.
The essential horror of the situation to my mind is that neither staying nor going is automatically going to produce a stable society.
A Modest Proposal for Withdrawal?
I sometimes wonder if pulling out might not be the best solution in the following sense:
If we did pull out anything that exists only because we’re there would probably fall apart. Eventually though, some sort of order would come into being (probably after considerable violence). With any luck, it might be a form of order created by Iraqis, something reasonably stable and not supported by outside forces. With a government that has control of Iraq and the support of it’s people, it would be possible for Iraqis to get somewhere.
At that point, the US might be in a better position to do some good in the country–provided Iraqis didn’t refuse our help on general principles.
Of course, if we did pull out I suppose it might be possible that some other country (Iran?) might prop up an unstable government favorable to itself.
No Good Solutions But Maybe a Good Observation…
I’m trying to wrap this post up right now, but I don’t really have a good ending for this. I have no solution to point people to.
All I have is the following thought:
The Bush administration probably thought that bringing down Saddam Hussein by force was a better bet than sanctions or diplomacy. It does have the advantage of being immediate, but it should be obvious now that violent overthrow of a regime you don’t like is just as uncertain as persuasion.