How The Democrat Demand That We Surrender And Timelines Undermine Democracy In Iraq

Over at The Corner, Byron York writes,

“It’s an article of faith in Republican circles that Congress should not impose deadlines on the U.S. troop presence in Iraq. But should deadlines be off limits in the Iraq debate? Maybe at this point, a deadline for the Iraqi government wouldn’t be a bad thing.

Yes, it’s true that a deadline would simply tell the enemy how long he has to wait before the U.S. leaves. But it would have the same effect on the Iraqi government, too, and that might be a good thing. Every instance in which there has been significant progress in Iraq — the writing of a constitution, election of a legislature, etc. — has come as a result of the U.S. pushing the Iraqis to meet a deadline. Without a deadline, they mess around, and mess around some more, and act as if they have all the time in the world. And even with a deadline, they are likely to miss it and delay until the last minute before getting anything done.”

There’s a big problem with timetables — and for that matter, the whole “Are we gonna stay or are we gonna go” debate.

Here’s the best way to explain it. Imagine you’re a Shia who lives in Baghdad. You hated Saddam, love America, love democracy, and although you believe in Islam, you’re not a fanatic about it. In short, you’re exactly the sort of “moderate Muslim” that we Americans always say we want to support.

Now, what are you thinking when you hear America talking about leaving before Iraq’s military is capable of handling the load?

Well, you’re thinking, “I like America, I like democracy, but it won’t do me any good if they leave in a few months and I’m dead 5 minutes later.” With that in mind, if you figure out that your neighbor is in a Shia death squad, do you call in an anonymous tip to the military or do you think, “Maybe I should try to get on this guy’s good side because 6 months from now, if everything flies off the handle, he and his death squad buddies may be the only thing standing between this neighborhood and a bunch of rampaging Sunnis.”

On the flip side, let’s say you’re a democracy-loving Sunni and you find out the location of an Al-Qaeda safehouse that is commonly used by dozens of terrorists. Do you pick up the phone and call the Americans or do you think, “Al-Qaeda may be scum, but they may also be the only thing standing between me and a Shia death squad when the Americans run.” My guess is that a lot of people would lean towards the latter choice…and can you blame them?

When we, as Americans, make it clear that the Iraqis can’t rely on us to honor our commitment to help them build a democracy, the Iraqis are going to start trying to figure out who’s going to be around after we’re gone and guess what? A lot of the groups that will be around, like Al-Sadr, Al-Qaeda, the Badr Brigade, etc. are bad actors. But, if America is going to run and they’re going to stay, the Iraqis are going to feel like they have no choice except to turn to the people who are going to be around long-term.

That’s one of the biggest reasons that the Iraqi government does seem to have sectarian leanings and that we don’t get as much cooperation as we should from the Iraqi people — it’s because they can’t count on us to stay around long enough to help them build a military that can defend their democracy.

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