The issue as to whether or not American troops must leave Iraq in the soonest possible time has been the subject of intense debates from all sides of the political spectrum and American society since the war in Iraq reached its fourth year last month, notwithstanding a troop withdrawal bill that is now pending in both Houses of Congress, which President George W. Bush threatens to veto. Parsing through the different national broadsheets, one of the more balanced editorials on the issue came from the Washington Post, in its editorial last 18th of March, entitled Lessons of War.
The Washington Post editorial gave a balanced analysis of the past few years of American occupation in Iraq. While it criticized much the way the plans for reconstruction were executed, it still held optimistic views on how the United States can get out of the current impasse and struggle forth against growing international criticism for the war. More so, there is also a critical analysis that the failure of diplomacy is never a sufficient argument to start a war. It can be remembered that the March 2003 invasion seemed like a knee-jerk reaction to the failure of negotiations between Iraq and the international community. For all of these faults by the Bush administration, the editorial does not stand simply to oppose the war and demand the pullout of troops, as it recognizes how responsible the United States is for the current surge of violence in Iraq that it cannot simply turn its back and leave. It understands that calling for a US troop pullout per se will never solve the woes of the Iraqi people nor lessen US accountability. As such, it supports all the efforts by different interest groups from all sectors and sides of the political spectrum to continue securing Iraq while gradually diminishing US troops in Iraq.
On the other hand, while the sentiments to continue the military and peace operations in Iraq are understandable given the responsibility of the American government in the surge of violence there, the relentless increase in American death toll should compel the Bush administration to conclusively rethink its strategy in Iraq towards a position of immediate withdrawal and replacing the American security forces with UN peacekeeping troops that would hold a neutral yet defensive position in the current sectarian violence. This is the most plausible alternative especially when the fundamental premises of the American occupation have not been proven until now, such as the existence of weapons of mass destruction and the terrorist collusion between Al-Qaida and the fallen government of Saddam Hussein. More so, innocent American lives are being sacrificed in a well-meaning war that has blown out of proportion, with sectarian militias and insurgents targeting not only Iraqi civilians and American security forces, but even American journalists, peace workers and human rights advocates.
Nonetheless, in all of these, a middle ground in the current impasse can still be achieved in the debate as to whether to continue American occupation in Iraq. At present, the United States is truly responsible for the devastation in Iraq, most of which are not entirely its fault. But if the world’s only superpower leaves at this critical juncture in Iraq’s history only to save its bright young men in uniform, the fundamental reason for all our sacrifices will have been for naught and totally lost – the liberation of Iraq from a despot and the establishment of freedom and democracy. It is for this reason that an immediate troop pullout from the war-torn region is utterly unreasonable, without glossing over the fact that keeping the troops in Iraq in a very protracted period is just as unjustified. As such, the only plausible middle ground to this issue would be for the American security forces to stay in Iraq for as long as the international community, lead by the United Nations, is ready enough to take the cudgels of peacekeeping and infrastructure building from the hands of American troops in Iraq. Only then can a full troop withdrawal be undertaken without compromising the fundamental principles of occupying Iraq in the first place.
1. ______________. “Lessons of War: The fighting in Iraq enters its fifth year.”
Washington Post. March 18, 2007.
2. Savoy, Paul. “The Moral Case Against the Iraq War.” The Nation. May 31, 2004. March 20, 2007 http://www.thenation.com/doc/20040531/savoy.
3. Eggen, Dan. “Bush Authorized Domestic Spying.” Washington Post 16 December 2005: A01