I was invited to join a number of non-journalists in the York area who will be submitting columns to the local Sunday paper over the next year. My first contribution is on the Iraq war and borrowed from a post I had written some time ago for Viewpoint. It appeared in yesterday's paper:
Feb 11, 2007 - President Bush has taken much criticism, some of it deserved, for the way the post-war has played out in Iraq. Disillusionment with the Iraqis and the rules under which we operate there has led many to favor bringing our troops home as soon as logistically possible. The day may come when we decide to do that, but before the American public signs on to such a step we should understand clearly what withdrawal will entail.
One need not be a military expert to anticipate that the aftermath of an American pullout would likely include at least these seven consequences:
1. Sunni and Shia would be at each others' throats in a desperate civil war for political dominance. It would be a fight for survival because whoever prevails would surely oppress, if not utterly eliminate, the loser.
2. Iran would move into Iraq on behalf of the Shia and to settle old scores with the Iraqi Sunnis dating back to the Iran-Iraq War in the 1980s. They would doubtless annex the oil fields in the south. Meanwhile, pressure would mount on Sunni nations like Egypt and Saudi Arabia to come to the aid of their beleaguered brethren. Turkey would take advantage of the chaos to settle their chronic Kurdish problem by invading northern Iraq. Syria would be sorely tempted to grab some oil fields wherever it could. Iraq would get carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey among its neighbors and would be almost completely helpless to prevent it.
3. Al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations would exploit Iraq's weakness to establish training areas and safe havens in the country from which to launch terrorist attacks around the world.
4. Anyone who had collaborated with or cooperated with the coalition would be marked for torture and death by insurgent forces. This could amount to perhaps hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis.
5. The chaos of war and the rape of the country's resources would result in severe shortages of food, water, medical care, sanitation and electricity. Refugees would flood into neighboring states and subsist in squalid camps. Perhaps millions of Iraqis would starve or perish from disease if these conditions persisted more than a few months.
6. The United States would be thoroughly discredited and blamed for the misery and strife in Iraq because of our retreat. No nation would ever trust us again to honor a commitment. Pressure from their people would cause governments in Kuwait, Oman and Qatar to insist we abandon our bases there. Other Muslim nations, like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Indonesia, seeing that we are undependable partners in the war on terror, would ratchet back their cooperation. As the last American helicopter flees Baghdad, every Arab nation with enough money will begin looking for nuclear weapons to protect themselves from the Iranians. Nations like Libya, which had given up the quest for nuclear weapons, would feel safe to resume it.
7. Our lack of credibility in the region would embolden Israel's neighbors to settle the "Zionist problem" once and for all. Once we start pulling out of the Middle East, it would be psychologically impossible to reverse course and go back in. The enemies of Israel would see our withdrawal as presenting them with a golden opportunity to wipe Israel from the Earth, and the Israelis would probably resort to nuclear weapons to keep that from happening.
It may be, of course, that none of these things would occur. It may be that in the vacuum created by our absence the Shia and Sunni would turn their swords into plowshares and live amicably with each other.
It may be that other nations would not be at all tempted to grab what they can of Iraq's oil wealth.
It may be that al-Qaida feels content in the hills of Pakistan and wouldn't move in force into Iraq.
It may be that the insurgents would forgive and forget the collaboration of their fellow Iraqis with the infidels.
It may be that Israel's Arab neighbors would feel sorry for Israel in its isolated and vulnerable state and offer to make peace instead of war.
And it may be that the Second Coming will be tomorrow, but all of our experience tells us it probably won't be, and it is our experience which should inform our judgments and policies, especially our foreign policy.
The status quo in Iraq is certainly not acceptable, and we may soon decide that we've done enough there, but, if so, let us not delude ourselves by thinking we are doing something noble or moral by withdrawing. A premature exit would consign hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Iraqis to almost certain death and would earn us the contempt of history for our betrayal.
There is an opportunity to comment at the link.RLC