Monday, July 16, 2007

Complete Troop Withdrawal or Force Reduction in Iraq

Complete Troop Withdrawal or Force Reduction in Iraq
by Jerome Grossman

Virtually every amendment and resolution currently before Congress fails to call for the complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. Instead, an unspecified number of troops would be allowed to stay for an unspecified time for three purposes: to defend US installations, to train Iraqi soldiers, and to fight terrorists and Al Qaeda.
This is a mandate to continue to do what US forces have been trying to do for more than four years. Military experts estimate that about 80,000 troops would be required to fulfill the three tasks, while some say the entire 160,000 presently deployed will be needed. If the American military has not accomplished its objectives with 160,000 combat troops, how can it be successful with fewer troops?
The insurgency in Iraq is composed of multiple groupings:
1. The religious, who consider American occupation a continuation of the Crusades of the 11th and 12th centuries.
2. Nationalists who wish to expel the American occupiers of their homeland.
3. The Baathists, seeking to regain the power they had under Saddam.
4. The Sunnis, who seek to avoid the minority status that might mean death or poverty.
5. The Shia, who can’t wait to enjoy their new power after suffering for centuries.
6. Criminals and gangsters, having a field day due to the breakdown of law and order.
7. Al Qaeda of Mesopotamia, composed mainly of religious foreigners who are strongly anti-Western, though relatively few in number.

While these competing groups may have multiple motivations, the American occupation of Iraq is the strongest. It enables the insurgents to gain support from the rest of the Muslim world. A continuation of the American occupation, even one reduced in size, will not succeed in defusing the insurgency but could instead stimulate it, particularly if the occupation is viewed as permanent.
The Bush administration has been criticized at home for not having an exit strategy in the Iraq War. This entirely misses the point: observers and media abroad believe there was never an intention to exit. We have more than 737 military bases in more than 130 countries, manned by hundreds of thousands of soldiers. These bases enable the United States to perform the historical role of the sole world superpower. Establishing bases in Iraq would give the United States a decisive role in oil production, in protecting Israel, and in further extending US hegemony.
Politicians from both parties who agree with these aims realize that they can only reduce public opposition to the Iraq War if they lower the number of American casualties. One solution under consideration is to move the entire American operation to the Kurd sector of Iraq, where the population and the government would make us welcome. There are rumors that negotiations are in play right now with the Kurds and their neighboring enemies the Turks, who are determined to prevent an independent Kurdistan that would destabilize Turkey. In such a situation, American combat would be limited to air warfare, reducing our casualties and making the continuation of the occupation more politically acceptable at home, if not abroad.
Nothing less than the complete withdrawal of all American forces from Iraq will decrease the worldwide hatred and distrust of the United States. The occupation of Iraq must end so that our country can rebuild its relationships with the Muslim world and nations worried about American military power.
Any law passed by Congress that includes the three exceptions to total withdrawal would give President Bush or the next president authorization to continue the war. That would be a strange act, considering that the senators and representatives who voted for the October 2002 original authorization have been apologizing for their votes ever since.
Here they go again.


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