by John Hawkins | September 27, 2007 11:48 am
This shows you how much David Petraeus’ testimony has changed the political climate,
The leading Democratic White House hopefuls conceded Wednesday night they cannot guarantee to pull all U.S. combat troops from Iraq by the end of the next presidential term in 2013.
“I think it’s hard to project four years from now,” said Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois in the opening moments of a campaign debate in the nation’s first primary state.
“It is very difficult to know what we’re going to be inheriting,” added Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.
“I cannot make that commitment,” said former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina.
So, if Hillary, Barack, and Edwards now have the same position as Rudy, Fred, Mitt, & McCain, you have to ask, who should America trust more to handle Iraq in 2009? The candidates who took that position early on because they thought it was the right thing to do, even though they knew the Democrats could use it against them at the polls, or the Democrats who’ve taken that position because they feel it’s a political necessity after David Petraeus’ testimony?
PS: Personally, I am in favor of having American bases in Iraq long-term. I think it’s to our advantage and it’s important to make sure that Iraq’s neighbors don’t get any funny ideas.
As to having US troops police the streets, the sooner we’re done with that phase of the operation, the better. Ideally, we should be doing what we do in Afghanistan. Helping out with training, logistics, intelligence, air power, and running special forces ops until the Iraqis can do it themselves.
That will take a while, but we should be able to bring most of our troops home considerably sooner. How soon? I’s hard to say and at this point, after all the false starts and stops, we would be better off letting the generals speculate on that count.
PS #2: It’s also worth noting that there are no guarantees of success in Iraq. All we can do is work as hard we can to build the Iraqis up while weakening the insurgents and terrorists and then, at some point, we’re going to have to take the training wheels off and hand them, as Ben Franklin said, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”
But, why expend all this blood and treasure if there’s a chance that Iraq may still fold after we leave? Well, a lot has been said — and rightly so — about the terrible consequences of failure. However, it’s also worth noting that there is a world of difference between doing everything reasonably within our power to insure success for the Iraqis and leaving them in the lurch.
If it’s the former situation, we can leave with a clean conscience, with relative unity amongst Americans, and with the confidence of our allies. If we leave early and watch them collapse into genocide, it would be a blotch on our national honor, it would roil the national debate for decades to come, it’d be a severe blow to our military, it would hearten our enemies, and it would cause our allies to lose confidence in our nation.
It’s not easy, nor simple, nor something anyone is happy that we have to do, but once we get into a war like this, the only responsible course of action is to see it through to the end.
Update #1: From the comments section,
“On the first PS, I disagree vehemently. We need less overseas bases, not more. We need to close down 90% of the overseas locations, open up a few skeleton bases with prepositioned equipment and rotating personnel. The only other option is to increase the size of the military, which hasn’t been happening in recent times.” — jasamc
I agree with you 100% that we need to significantly reduce the number of bases and personnel that we have overseas.
However, Iraq is a very strategic location and perhaps more importantly, in the short-term at least, they need a US presence there to keep their neighbors from getting any wild ideas about invading. In other words, the bases would serve as a tripwire, just as they did in South Korea for so long.
PS: After North Korea is confirmably disarmed of nukes, I’d like to see us get out of South Korea. They’re bigger and much more technologically advanced than North Korea. Moreover, it wouldn’t be to China’s advantage to stir up a war at this point given the sort of trade they’re doing with South Korea. So, why do we still need so many troops there? The same could be said for most of Western Europe, although there are some strategic bases we’d want to keep there.
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