Why it's time to get out of Iraq now
An average of three American soldiers are being killed daily in Iraq. More than 60 have died so far in October, making it one of the bloodiest months for U.S. forces since the war began. At this rate, American casualties will exceed 3,000 in a matter of weeks. And yet President Bush still proclaims that we need to "stay the course." Some politicians even argue that we need to send more troops to Iraq because our forces are badly stretched out. I wonder how many of these warhawks have sons or daughters serving there.
James Baker, the former Secretary of State who co-heads a committee set up to review Iraq strategy, warns that if we leave now, "Iraq will be a failed state and the center of the war on terrorism." What does this eminent statesman/politician think the shape of Iraq is now?
A more sensible appraisal was recently made by Great Britain's military chief of staff. He called for the coalition troops to leave now because "their presence there is making things worse." (The term "coalition" is a joke because it suggests that, other than Britain's tiny detachment, the U.S. still has allied foreign forces in Iraq.)
The U.S. is now an occupier rather than a liberator in the eyes of most Iraqis. According to the latest opinion polls, a majority of them want us to get out now. We are stuck in the middle of a civil war. And when we initiate operations, we are often unable to distinguish friends from enemies.
The situation is so chaotic that not only are Sunnis fighting Shiites but Shiites are battling among themselves. The Iraqi army and police forces are riddled with militia members organized into "death squads" that are responsible for the surge of sectarian bloodshed.
An op-ed columnist in the New York Times recently interviewed several of the top U.S. officials responsible for planning and conducting operations in Iraq, asking whether they know the difference between Sunnis and Shiites. The columnist was astonished that none of those he interviewed could intelligently answer the question. If it weren't so tragic, the findings would be comical. They show how woefully unprepared we were to handle the post-invasion situation in Iraq.
I find it pathetic to hear those poor souls who favor the war still arguing that we need to fight in Iraq in order "to keep the fighting from coming to the streets in America." The sad truth is that our involvement in Iraq has increased the threat of Islamic violence in our country. Our invasion of Iraq, causing the death of hundreds of thousands of civilians, has so inflamed the Muslim world that the ranks of anti-American Islamic terrorists are growing rapidly.
U.S. armed forces have been reduced to a police role. Our effort to build up reliable native Iraqi military and police forces is in shambles, largely because of the infiltration of both pro-Saddam insurgents and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias. The primary victor in the Iraq war is Iran, a Shiite nation, which is a far more serious threat to our national security than Iraq ever was.
A former Iraqi enemy, Iran now wields extraordinary influence over a Shiite-led Iraqi government, set up by the U.S. in our naive effort to introduce democracy. The Iraqis' violent behavior and the civil chaos it has created demonstrate that Iraqi society is ill-prepared or simply unwilling to recognize how to practice democracy. And all the while, American soldiers are needlessly dying.