This weekend marks the 4th anniversary of the War On Iraq. It might be helpful to reflect on the justifications for this war. The first justification is that we went to war based on the best intelligence available at the time. But if that is true, then why were we in such a hurry to begin the war that we did not let the UN inspectors finish their work. These inspectors could have verified our suspicions if given time. So rather than working on the best available intelligence, we prevented the best intelligence from becoming available.
The second justification is that we went war to liberate the Iraqi people from Saddamn Hussein. Certainly this was accomplished. But what does Saddamn's replacement look like? We have swapped Saddamn's tyranny for the terror of multiple wars. Multiple wars include the battle between Sunnis verses Shiites, insurgents verses occupiers, and Al-Qaeda verses western troops.
In addition, we traded a decimated Iraqi infrastructure for a war torn area. Plus, we planned on occupying Iraq on a long term basis as evidenced by our efforts to build permanent military bases and a massive embassy. Finally, polls show that at least 80% of Iraqis want American troops to eventually leave. How is it that we can both claim to liberate Iraq and yet to occupy them against their wishes?
A reason used to justify why we should stay in Iraq now is that if we were to leave, our enemies in Iraq would follow our troops and attack us here. Those who employ this reasoning fail to distinguish between the different groups who are fighting along with the reasons why they fight. After all, why should those who are merely resisting occupation follow our troops here? This is a failure to distinguish between America's enemies and those who see themselves as patriotic freedom fighters. The failure to make such distinctions indicates an all or nothing thinking pattern that deliberately limits the information on which a decision is based.
Another reason used to justify maintaining our occupation is that to withdraw before the job is done will only embolden the enemy. Besides the problem that the job to be done has not been well-defined, something else will also embolden the enemy, that is it to fail. If we put our troops in a position in which they cannot succeed, not only will their failure will embolden the enemy, the troops will suffer unnecessary casualties. What we need to address this concern is to discover what job the Bush Administration wanted to achieve in Iraq and then to study if the job is feasible. Having the most powerful military in the world does not imply that they can achieve any objective set before them. Vietnam already proved the limits of using of massive military power. And it is at this point that we should note an ominous similarity. Just as we lacked the popular support of the people in Vietnam, we are without the same in Iraq--over 80% of Iraqis want us to leave while approximately 60% of Iraqis support insurgent attacks on American troops. This deficiency of popular support is the reason why we lost Vietnam. So how does our lack of popular support bode for our future in Iraq?
And yet another reason why we are told we should stay in Iraq is that to leave early would damage American prestige. This loss of prestige will not only apply to how others will judge us, it applies to the esteem we will have for ourselves. Can we remain proud of ourselves if we fail in Iraq? For some, the answer is no. But do we consider the cost of maintaining our pride? How many people must die so that we can brag? The answer to this question tells us what others think of us.
Our policy towards Iraq is symptomatic of our foreign policy in general; our foreign policy resembles a dysfunctional relationship. That is we act as an abusive dominating person who cannot trust whom we cannot control. The problem here is that not only is such mistrust and control self-destructive, it increases the number of our enemies making such control unsustainable.
There are numerous protests this weekend objecting to our War On Iraq. Will these protests have a significant effect on our government and the war effort? The answer is no if the protests do not continue. While I will thoroughly enjoy this weekend's protesting of the war, I know that the day after should be spent on planning future protests. It is only after persistent speaking out that even a deaf government learns to listen to the people. Without such protests, the government will assume to have the consent of a silent majority or reasons that it rules over a non-involved apathetic people.
This article first appeared in extrememoderate.townhall.com