Rather than engage in political rhetoric or insult-mongering, I will simply say that our objective now in Iraq is to help the Iraqi government establish and maintain a professional and capable force to establish and protect Iraqi national stability. Then our presence will diminish by degrees until it is practically negligible. But until that point — when Iraqi security forces can operate independently in a professional and capable manner — we cannot leave. Or, rather, we should not leave. (Our Armed Services are servile enough that if the government gave them orders to retreat, they will retreat even if they believe something else should be done.)
The United States already have a reputation of not delivering on its commitments. They are seen as weak and lacking principle. The moment the going gets tough, as it were, The United States leave, abandoning their allies and other entities to whatever date may await them. Vietnam and Somalia are often brought up as examples. (Bringing up Somalia is a little unfair, though: although it seems like we ran out, what we did is change tactics: rather than fighting directly, we fought indirectly by supporting anti-Islamist forces with money and weapons; we let them do the dirty work for us.) This view is somewhat justified with regard to Iraq: after defeating Saddam Hussein’s forces, we advocated the oppressed Shiites to rise up against Saddam Hussein and his regime, but our assistance for them never materialized when they rose up against Saddam Hussein and his regime as we had changed our mind by then and did not want to meddle further in Iraqi affairs, the result being the deaths of many Iraqis that did not have to happen if we stick to our commitments. This is also what animates Pakistan’s paranoia regarding American support for Pakistan: it is viewed that America supported Pakistan when it needed Pakistan’s support and involvement against Communist forces in Afghanistan. But once the Communist menace was driven out, we dropped Pakistan like a got potato and even turned against it. If we leave Iraq before we ought to, our credibility will vanish to nothing, which will seriously hinder any effort with other states.
Thanks to Syria and Iran and other anti-American entities and forces, the very real threat exists that Iraq might become another base for terrorist and other anti-American activity and entities. Right now they are focused on attacking the Armed Services of The United States and their allies, attacking forces part of the Iraqi government, and fomenting sectarian strife. If we leave, we will be out of harm’s way, or so it will seem, but only for a short period of time. Inevitably, Shiite militias will take control of southern Iraq, Sunni militias will take control of central Iraq, both will attack and destroy iraq’s infrastructure and economy and government, both will attempt to slaughter the other, and they (along with international forces and entities) will focus their attention, time, and resources on tactics and plots again The United States. Because they would then be unable to attack American entities within their borders, they will have to come to our home. And this will be in addition to their plots and networks assisting other terrorist networks and states elsewhere throughout the world.
Helping Iraqi forces stabilize Iraq is crucial for our national interests and security. The creation of a pro-American entity in that region will diminish the ability of the various anti-American entities (states and networks) there. This pro-American entity can not only disrupt anti-American efforts but its very existence disrupts anti-American networks. Should action need to be taken against anti-American entities there, we will have someone to take action on our behalf or a base from which to take action if direct action is needed. We won’t have to fly or swim in from Okinawa. (This will also make us less dependent on less reliable allies, such as Turkey.) This is a matter of the prestige of The United States; the greater our prestige, the less we will have to get directly involved to protect our interests and security. If we withdraw, our prestige will suffer such a dramatic hit that we would have to invest a tremendously more amount of effort, time, and resources to accomplish what before took very little.
But here is where we get stuck. Here is a point where people on both sides of the political spectrum misunderstand. And this point will be my next post.