Why We Should Pull Out of Iraq

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Kurt V

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I know this is not the popular view, but I believe we need to get the hell out of Iraq. Here is my reasoning. Hopefully this will generate some healthy debate.

The people of Iraq are not ready for a democracy. We can't force a democracy on them. Until they are ready to fight for their right to be free a democratic government will not form and last. Are we doing good things for the people of Iraq? Yes, but no matter how much good we do, the minute we leave the country the religious factions will conduct a civil war with winner takes all. This is not a bad thing. The best thing for the U.S. is a stable Iraq, regardless of who is running the country.

Just because we pull out does not mean we have turned our backs on the good men and women that have fought and died in Iraq. Honor them. But there is no reason we need to keep feeding our military to the grist mill that is Iraq.

I have more thoughts, but first I will see if anyone is even interested in this point of view.
 

AWP

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Good thread, please continue.

For those that want to participate, let's keep this civil.
 

Ravage

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I'm no militar, never been to Iraq, was never involved in combat.
But I think that the job ain't done yet. We will leave when the job get's done.
But my opinion means shit and lets leave it at that.
 
B

Boondocksaint375

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I know this is not the popular view, but I believe we need to get the hell out of Iraq. Here is my reasoning. Hopefully this will generate some healthy debate.

The people of Iraq are not ready for a democracy. We can't force a democracy on them. Until they are ready to fight for their right to be free a democratic government will not form and last. Are we doing good things for the people of Iraq? Yes, but no matter how much good we do, the minute we leave the country the religious factions will conduct a civil war with winner takes all. This is not a bad thing. The best thing for the U.S. is a stable Iraq, regardless of who is running the country.

Just because we pull out does not mean we have turned our backs on the good men and women that have fought and died in Iraq. Honor them. But there is no reason we need to keep feeding our military to the grist mill that is Iraq.

I have more thoughts, but first I will see if anyone is even interested in this point of view.
I disagree. I see it more of a national security issue than anything. I don't think we need another Mogadishu in this world. I also don't want to see Iraq turn into another Palestine, where a terrorist organization pretty much runs the show. I don't believe Iraq is a lost cause, but I do think Americans have always had a weak stomach for war. We haven't had the long term spirit of nationalism since the war of 1812. Personally, I want the job to get done, and I have no doubt that it can.
 

Paddlefoot

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We're going to be involved in Iraq and the rest of the ME for the forseeable future, but I agree we should stop conducting the main thrust of operations. That country is going to come to terms with itself, in its on way, regardless of a "surge" or any other military strategy put forth.

Hindsight is 20-20, but we should have followed Garner's reccomendations and turned the country over to the next in line, regardless of their baathist affiliations. The original mission called for checking for WMD and ousting Saddam. Both missions were accomplished.

If I take my hindsight back even further, we should have committed in 1991 to what we eventually did in 2003. I hate to say it, but we gave away the store with an ill conceived and watered down cease fire agreement with Iraq. We should have stayed awhile longer, I'd have given up another 20-30 lbs I couldn't really afford, and perhaps something else althogether, to achieve a more lasting victory and peace.
 
K

Kurt V

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Thanks for the civil and educated responses. But what is the "Job" we are trying to get done? I would think number one would be to prevent another terrorist attack in the U.S.

There is no question the insurgents and other anti-American parties will take over the government once we leave. But that will happen no matter how long we stay. Any government capable of holding power in Iraq will be anti-American, because the Iraqi people are increasingly becoming anti-American.
Imposing a liberal constitutional order in Iraq would be to accomplish something that has never been done before. Of all the world's political cultures, an Arab-Muslim one may be the most resistant to such a change of any in the world. Even the Muslim society in Turkey (an anti-Arab society) stands out for being the only example of a constitutional order in an Islamic society, and even it backslides occasionally.

All we have really accomplished is making Iraq a training ground for terrorists. The CIA has pointed out to the administration and congress that Iraq is spawning so many terrorists that they are returning home to many other countries to further practice their skills there. The quicker a new dictator wins the political power in Iraq and imposes order, the sooner the country will stop producing well-experienced terrorists.
 

Paddlefoot

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Bear in mind, a substantial withdrawl of all or most of our personnel, plus equipment, is going to require a lot of planning and logistical expertise.

I sure don't want to see any mad scrambles leaving the country. Orderly, disciplined and covered by a lot of firepower every step of the way.
 

AWP

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I see us as between a rock and a hard place: pull out and we look weak, stay and we commit lives and money to a near hopeless cause.

I do not believe that the Iraqi gov't can stand on its own for long without our presence. However, thsat is precisely what is needed in order for us to leave: a stable gov't that can secure its own country. They appear to be a long way from that goal.

We can't pull out but we shouldn't stay, IMO. My take is that we are caught and the only way out is through a stable (or as close as we can get it) Iraq. At least we are killing them there and not here on our own soil. It has become a lightning rod for bad guys and that does make me happy.

In the end I'd vote to stay, but not by much. Iraq needs to pull it together soon though, we cannot continue on this road for much longer.
 

Crusader74

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What I can see happening is the rest of the coalition partners pulling out and leaving you guys on yer lonesome..

Can you Guys stay there indefinite?

personally I think You can't change the will of the people(the US or any other Country for that matter) and history has shown us that.

So I think You should Pull out because I can't see the situation getting better any time soon.

The Lebanon is a perfect example.
 
K

Kurt V

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I see us as between a rock and a hard place: pull out and we look weak
If we were Russia or some other insecure nation, we might have to worry about credibility. A hyperpower need not worry about credibility. That’s one of the great advantages of being a hyperpower: When we have made a big strategic mistake, we can reverse it. And it may even enhance our credibility. Staying there damages our credibility more than leaving.

The civil war we leave behind may well draw in Syria, Turkey and Iran. But already today each of those states is deeply involved in support for or opposition to factions in the ongoing Iraqi civil war. The very act of invading Iraq almost insured that violence would involve the larger region. And so it has and will continue, with, or without, US forces in Iraq. The US presence is not preventing Shiite-Sunni conflict; it merely delays it. Iran is preventing it today, and it will probably encourage it once the Shiites dominate the new government, an outcome US policy virtually ensures.
 
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Boondocksaint375

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I think b leaving we would just make more enemies. I don't see anyone gettinginto office in 2008 that will just up and pull our military out of Iraq. I do see bench marks in Iraqs future at some point though (which I doubt they will be able to meet). Iraq need a much stronger Army, many more troops, and the Iranian interference needs to be stopped by whatever measures necessary, IMO. We've let that shit go on for far too long.
 
K

Kurt V

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I think b leaving we would just make more enemies. I don't see anyone gettinginto office in 2008 that will just up and pull our military out of Iraq. I do see bench marks in Iraqs future at some point though (which I doubt they will be able to meet). Iraq need a much stronger Army, many more troops, and the Iranian interference needs to be stopped by whatever measures necessary, IMO. We've let that shit go on for far too long.
Boon, the only friends we will ever have in the middle east is Israel and the Kurds.

As for the Iranians, Iranian leaders see US policy in Iraq as being so much in Teheran's interests that they have been advising Iraqi Shiite leaders to do exactly what the Americans ask them to do. Elections will allow the Shiites to take power legally. Once in charge, they can settle scores with the Baathists and Sunnis. If US policy in Iraq begins to undercut Iran's interests, then Teheran can use its growing influence among Iraqi Shiites to stir up trouble, possibly committing Shiite militias to an insurgency against US forces there. The US invasion has vastly increased Iran's influence in Iraq, not sealed it out.

The insurgents are fighting very effectively without US or European military advisors to train them. Why don't the soldiers and police in the present Iraqi regime's service do their duty as well? Because they are uncertain about committing their lives to this regime. They are being asked to take a political stand, just as the insurgents are. Political consolidation, not military-technical consolidation, is the issue. The issue is not military training; it is institutional loyalty. We trained the Vietnamese military effectively. Its generals took power and proved to be lousy politicians and poor fighters in the final showdown. In many battles over a decade or more, South Vietnamese military units fought very well, defeating VC and NVA units. But South Vietnam's political leaders lost the war.

Even if we were able to successfully train an Iraqi military and police force, the likely result, after all that, would be another military dictatorship. Experience around the world teaches us that military dictatorships arise when the military’s institutional modernization gets ahead of political consolidation.
 

Crusader74

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I think b leaving we would just make more enemies. I don't see anyone getting into office in 2008 that will just up and pull our military out of Iraq. I do see bench marks in Iraq's future at some point though (which I doubt they will be able to meet). Iraq need a much stronger Army, many more troops, and the Iranian interference needs to be stopped by whatever measures necessary, IMO. We've let that shit go on for far too long.
So how do you purpose changing it?
 
B

Boondocksaint375

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We have many more friends in the ME than the Israelis and Kurds. You would be surprised how much of the Sunni and Shia population there actually like us. The media shows America only one side of things, the raging mobs with their fists raised. Spend some time over there and you'll see. Not everyone is out to get us.
 
L

Looon

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We should pull back to Kuwait and to the Kurdish part of the country. Then see what happens. I too, believe that it's time to go. It's time to let the Iraqies to step up and do for themselves.

We haven't lost anything........:2c:
 

Ex3

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I thought this was a very interesting article.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS:
Why Gun-Barrel Democracy Doesn’t Work

By Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and George W. Downs

When it involves itself in the affairs of others, the United States likes to say that it is doing so in defense of freedom and democracy. That’s what we said in Iraq, among other things, when we toppled Saddam Hussein. That was part (though not all) of our argument for going after the Taliban in Afghanistan. But it’s also what we said in Vietnam in the 1960s, in Grenada in 1983, in Panama in 1989, and in numerous other interventions during the twentieth century.

In fact, presidents rarely fail to trot out “democracy” as a justification for their actions abroad. That’s because it is popular with Americans, who like to feel they are on the side of the angels. But if it’s democracy we’re after, we are failing miserably.

Between World War II and the present, the United States intervened more than 35 times in developing countries around the world. But our research shows that in only one case—Colombia after the American decision in 1989 to engage in the war on drugs—did a full-fledged, stable democracy with limits on executive power, clear rules for the transition of power, universal adult suffrage, and competitive elections emerge within 10 years. That’s a success rate of less than 3 percent.

After other interventions—such as Guatemala (1954), Nicaragua (1978 and 1982), and Thailand (1966)—various trappings of democracy, such as noncompetitive elections and a limited franchise, were added in the decade that followed, but the critical elements of a fully developed democracy simply never emerged.

The results of our engagements in Lebanon (1958), the Republic of the Congo (1967), and, again, Guatemala (1966, 1972) were more dismal still. In these cases intervention was actually followed by deterioration in the modest progress these states had achieved. For instance, the Guatemalan executive was substantially less constrained by law or by the legislature in 1982 than in 1972.

We reached these conclusions by correlating known interventions—including not just large-scale wars but also small actions like flyovers or “advisory” missions—with what is known as the Polity IV Index, an academically accepted measure of the status of democracy and autocracy country by country and year by year. Although cause and effect cannot always be determined, what is clear is that, time after time, American engagement abroad has not led to more freedom or more democracy in the countries where we’ve become involved.

Why does the United States show such unimpressive results? Whatever the problem is, it isn’t exclusive to the United States; the record of other interveners—both democratic and non-democratic—is no better. Neither Britain, France, Canada, nor any other country has an enviable record of creating democracy by military intervention. Nor can the problems be blamed on the countries in which we chose to intervene. Although many of these interventions took place in poor countries where the education level was low and where there was little previous experience with democratic institutions, there is scant evidence to suggest that this is why democracy failed to take hold. In fact, neighboring countries generally experienced more progress toward democracy in the ensuing decade than did the states where the intervention occurred. Moreover, even under the best conditions, the chances of success for externally imposed democracy were quite small.

We think a better explanation lies in the inherent tension between America’s stated desire to implement democratic processes in the intervened-in nations and its desire to ensure that these nations will pursue policies that reflect U.S. interests. Conflict between these two goals is almost inevitable, except in the case of primarily humanitarian interventions, which are quite rare and often fail because of a lack of commitment on the part of the interveners (as in the case of Somalia in 1993).

In the typical cases, the United States—like other interveners—has been motivated less by a desire to establish democracy or reduce human suffering than to alter some aspect of the target state’s policy. (For instance, the recent invasion of Afghanistan was aimed more at ending that country’s support for Osama bin Laden than at bringing democracy to its people.) Although democracy would no doubt be a nice by-product, it is rarely the most important goal.

In many cases, such as Iraq, American administrations have strong incentives to leave as little as possible to chance. This is because the “Iraq holds the key to winning the war on terror” rhetoric that mobilizes public support for the war leads the same public to expect the Iraqi government that emerges to be an ally in that battle. The creation of a state that is critical of U.S. policy, much less one that is openly sympathetic to enemies of U.S. interests, is simply not an acceptable result.

Unfortunately, the goal of leaving as little as possible to chance is incompatible with the goal of promoting democracy. There’s no guarantee that free, fair, open elections in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan will produce governments that back fundamental U.S. policies like opposition to terrorism, a commitment to the free flow of oil to the West, and support for the Middle East peace process.

The far more reliable path to a favorable policy outcome is to (a) prop up leaders—usually autocrats—who have a demonstrated track record of sympathy with U.S. goals; (b) appoint a U.S.-interest-dominated “acting government” and then charge it with holding free and fair elections when conditions permit; and (c) design an electoral process that is virtually certain to elect a sympathetic government and promote the dominance of single-party rule or weak central authority for the foreseeable future (the often-forgotten outcome in some of the best cases, such as Japan and Germany).

Experience has taught us that these strategies rarely, if ever, lead to anything that looks and functions like a genuine democracy in the short or medium term. But they do give the administration of the intervening country the kind of ally it needs to help achieve its foreign policy goals abroad and its electoral goals at home.

Happy to be free of the burdens of war, voters back home are generally willing to embrace their administration’s assurances that however imperfect the new government might appear to nitpickers, it is now well on the road to democracy. In the case of Iraq, the only ones who will notice that the “model democracy” is really more of an autocracy—or a loose confederation of three separate autocratic states—on the road to nowhere will be its citizens and those of the other Middle Eastern countries.


This essay appeared in the Los Angeles Times on February 4, 2004. Available from the Hoover Press is The Transnational Dimension of Cyber Crime and Terrorism, edited by Abraham D. Sofaer and Seymour E. Goodman. Also available is The New Terror: Facing the Threat of Biological and Chemical Weapons, edited by Sidney D. Drell, Abraham D. Sofaer, and George D. Wilson. To order, call 800.935.2882.
Bruce Bueno de Mesquita is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Silver Professor of Politics at New York University.

George W. Downs is dean of social science and professor of politics at New York University.
 
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