When it comes to Iraq, we can't seem to do anything right. We supposedly ended our combat phase but still leave 50,000 troops there for "training" the Iraqi military. Not a week goes by after the administration triumphantly announces and with television cameras recording the jubilant departure of this last "combat" withdrawal came the news that those "trainers" left behind were engaged militarily leaving two of our men dead. Well, so much for our combat phase ending.
Iraq held an election over six months ago to choose a new prime minister. To date no new government has been put in place. V.P. Biden has been there recently "advising and consulting" to try to get the quarreling Iraqi factions to agree to make concessions and end the stalemate. The problem is the factions have no trust of each other and therein lays the stalled process. Nice try Joe but we couldn't bring democracy at the point of a gun and you certainly can't unravel the current snarl of competing distrustful factions regardless of your good intentions. And that points to the nub of our remaining in Iraq.
There seems to be no realization on our part that for any real solution to Iraq's problems whether it is security or implementing a new government, it needs to be an Iraqi only solution.
It can't be seen as an American inspired solution. Iraq's Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds may deeply mistrust each other, but they mistrust America even less. The same could be said for Shiite Iran even by many Iraqi Shiites.
No country wants outside interference and meddling in their internal affairs, much less a preemptive invasion and occupation.
Lest we forget our own history we fought a revolution to rid ourselves of King George, brought together independent colonies, forged a union, wrote our own Constitution and became a nation. We did it ourselves with plenty of fits and starts but without outside interference and any lingering British presence.
Yet it seems beyond our imagination to believe others can do the same.
We need to look no further than Viet Nam and the lesson we should have learned there. The war we fought propping up a quisling South Vietnamese government to oppose the Communist North and the Viet Cong insurgents in the South was an abject failure. The nightmare we created in Viet Nam didn't end until we unceremoniously left that beleaguered country. Sure the Communists took over and there were reprisals against those Vietnamese that worked with us during our unfortunate involvement. But no "dominoes" fell with our departure and the North unified the country. Some 37 years after we completely withdrew, Viet Nam is a unified, productive and viable country; all done without a scintilla of American interference.
Iraq is not Viet Nam. The dynamics in Iraq with the ethnic and sectarian rivalries being much more pronounced than anything comparable to Viet Nam is a reality. But every country has its own peculiarities, competing interests and rivalries.
At this point in time the ultimate outcome of Iraq and the Iraqi people can not be known. But surely no stable eventual outcome is possible while we remain a presence in the country.
Viet Nam should be our guiding lesson. That it is not is to our shame.