After viewing the testimony of General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker these past few days, it has become obvious that our troops will remain in Iraq at least as long as George W. Bush remains in office. This is true, even if Congress chooses not to fund the war, something they will never do. Therefore, any discussion of a precipitous withdrawal is meaningless.
The oft stated fear of a premature withdrawal is that Iraq will become a failed state, thus allowing al-Qaeda to set up a base in which they could train terrorists and plan attacks on the United States. A second fear is that Iran will then exert undue influence over Iraq, to our detriment. These situations occurring at the same time are unlikely for several reasons. As demonstrated in Anbar Province, when the Iraqis revolted against al-Qaeda domination, the Iraqis would not allow al-Qaeda to establish themselves in their country. As to Iranian influence, that will always be there as long as there is a Shiite government exists in Iraq.
But al-Qaeda doesn’t need Iraq for a base to train and plan attacks against the United States. We shouldn’t forget that the attacks on 9/11 were originally conceived in Indonesia, the detailed plans were worked out in Germany, and the pilots were trained in the United States.
On the contrary, our presence in Iraq is exactly what Osama bin Laden was hoping would happen when the 9/11 attacks were as devastating as they were. He had finally come up with an attack that got us to commit troops, in large numbers, to the Middle East. While our invasion of Afghanistan was more successful than he had anticipated, when we then invaded Iraq, he couldn’t have been happier.
That is why al-Qaeda insists that Iraq is the central front of their plan. Having learned the lesson of what happened to the Soviet Union when they became mired in Afghanistan, he plans to keep us in Iraq until we have exhausted our funds and our troops. His plan is working. Bin Laden remains safely ensconced in his caves on the border of Afghanistan and Pakistan, while we don’t have the wherewithal to root him out. Meanwhile, he is killing and maiming Americans at a pretty good rate and exhausting our Armed Forces. The high price of oil is helping to bankrupt us while filling the coffers of his friends in Saudi Arabia who supply him with funds.
We are not safer as long as we remain in Iraq. On the contrary, we are in danger of becoming a failed state.