If the War Goes On

Iraq was taken over in one month and we’re dragging on well into an uneconomical year number six of the United States’ occupation. For some it might be hard to even remember exactly what has validated such excess. Truth be told it was a blur of the Bush Administration’s ‘all of the above’ multiple choice answers (when one justification was disproved, pick another), blind patriotism, fear, the once non-responsive dictator Saddam Hussein and a few other tyrants.

Dismissing old arguments of defending our country (Al-Qaeda held/holds the hate torch, not Iraq) and that this was a necessary war, past criticisms from all parties and the cold, hard facts there are surely some good tidings that have come as a result of the war that has painfully limped on with a hazy ending possibly in sight.

Dramatic symbol of a failed war
Dramatic symbol of a failed war

The Iraqis have seen the replacement of dictatorship with a young and blossoming democracy. They have greater freedoms including freedom of speech, press and the liberties to run many types of shops they could not before. But do the joys and benefits of democracy in Iraq justify the resources we’ve put in to it? What about long term repercussions for the Middle East and the United States, as well as the U.S.’s relation to the world as a whole? And just where are we going with this tenacious and unwelcome domination? As one of my friends stationed in Iraq said:

“I don’t get it; they just got us out here babysitting Iraqis.”

There was a Strategy?

With spending boiling to a cumulative total of close to $800 billion dollars in 2008, thousands dead, millions of refugees sent sprawling (anyone remember them?), quality of life lowered in Iraq as well as ever-increasing inflation, deficit spending, economic down-turns and the usual problems back home in the States it’s hard to see any benefit to this war that was dismissed too lightly as being an issue of “‘poor strategy.”

New Candidates and Hopefully an Overdue Solution

Iraq is pressing for a withdrawal of U.S. forces date as soon as yesterday. The Bush administration has always been blank in terms of answers so the disarray will be left in the hands of the new president to clean up. Withholding long-gone presidential nominee Tom Tancredo’s proposed solution of turning the Middle East into a gigantic glass bowl, what realistic answers are we left looking at? And from this precipice there is still a question of how well the proposed formulas will hold up under the light of closer scrutiny.

What if McCain is chosen?

McCain has been a proponent of the war since 2002. He is still supportive of it and he still favors troop increases. He is against a timetable for withdrawal of the armed services and projects he could have most U.S. forces home by 2013. He desires for Iraq to be able to fully safeguard their rights and liberties before considering beginning a withdrawal of forces. McCain’s ultimate goal is to not leave Iraq until protection is self-assured from both foreign and domestic enemies for Iraq, by Iraq.

Aside from the idea of achieving this ideal and distant goal, he was quoted before as saying that he has no plan B. The only plan is to ride it out until there is democracy and a McDonalds and Starbucks on every other corner in Iraq. Again, we find ourselves remaining an imperialistic ruling power to not risk the chance of a power-vacuum forming; the philosophy that if you continue to bang your head against the wall your headache will go away.

What if Obama is chosen?

To quote Obama from an antiwar speech in 2002 “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” He agrees with McCain in following up on America’s moral responsibility in helping to clean up the mess it helped stir up, for both Iraqi and American security. Opposed to investing in a sinking ship, he has proposed a bold strategy to bring the troops back home and put Iraq into its own and rightful hands.

Obama wants to immediately start removing troops month to month, with a goal to have all our combat brigades out of Iraq in sixteen months. Other than a few troops left as a terrorist strike-force and to protect diplomats and our embassy he has no plans on remaining an imperial power over Iraq. With the help of the U.N., he seeks to address such issues as oil-revenue sharing and federalism and also to appeal to Iraqi society and government to take responsibility for their constitution and democracy.

To tie it altogether Obama plans on launching a ruthless diplomatic campaign to secure Iraq’s borders, keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq, to root out terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, financially help reconstruct Iraq and to support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups. Of course none of this will happen over night and cleaning up someone else’s mess is never an easy proposition.

Considering both propositions, we’re left with many questions. Is a prolonged baby-sitting of Iraq healthy for America, let alone the toddler democracy? Is gently forcing them to fend for themselves by a planned removal of our troops a good thing? If so, will we be able to meet the diplomatic necessities of the situation? And just how much do we want to gamble in resources of time, money and most importantly – lives?

New Hope

Hope comes with a new administration, be it the republicans who seem to dissonantly echo its possible predecessor or the democrats who see the reality and necessity of change. The notion of winning the war is long past a moot point. This downward spiral is now an issue of damage control. The U.S. will have to step down from its dominion sooner or later. It is an issue of when and what dangers the U.S. wishes to juggle. It has been six years so far with the tragic results blasted in our face and on the news everyday. How about living with another six years of this? What if the war goes on?