Sunday, February 11, 2007

Must read

There is a tremendously important article by William Odom in today's Washington Post. Odom was head of army intelligence and director of the National Security Agency under Reagan, so he has ample credentials to discuss the war in Iraq. You should read the entire piece, which is entitled "Victory Is Not An Option," but here are some excerpts:

"The public awakened to the reality of failure in Iraq last year and turned the Republicans out of control of Congress to wake it up. But a majority of its members are still asleep, or only half-awake to their new writ to end the war soon."

"A Congress, or a president, prepared to quit the game of "who gets the blame" could begin to alter American strategy in ways that will vastly improve the prospects of a more stable Middle East.

"No task is more important to the well-being of the United States. We face great peril in that troubled region, and improving our prospects will be difficult."

"[T]he assumption that the United States could create a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq defies just about everything known by professional students of the topic."

"[T]o expect any Iraqi leader who can hold his country together to be pro-American, or to share American goals, is to abandon common sense. It took the United States more than a century to get over its hostility toward British occupation. (In 1914, a majority of the public favored supporting Germany against Britain.)"

"Too many lawmakers have fallen for the myths that are invoked to try to sell the president's new war aims. Let us consider the most pernicious of them.

"1) We must continue the war to prevent the terrible aftermath that will occur if our forces are withdrawn soon.
Reflect on the double-think of this formulation. We are now fighting to prevent what our invasion made inevitable!"


"2) We must continue the war to prevent Iran's influence from growing in Iraq. This is another absurd notion. One of the president's initial war aims, the creation of a democracy in Iraq, ensured increased Iranian influence, both in Iraq and the region."

"3) We must prevent the emergence of a new haven for al-Qaeda in Iraq. But it was the U.S. invasion that opened Iraq's doors to al-Qaeda. The longer U.S. forces have remained there, the stronger al-Qaeda has become."

"4) We must continue to fight in order to 'support the troops'....Has anybody asked the troops?"

"But the strangest aspect of this rationale for continuing the war is the implication that the troops are somehow responsible for deciding to continue the president's course. That political and moral responsibility belongs to the president, not the troops."

"The first and most critical step is to recognize that fighting on now simply prolongs our losses and blocks the way to a new strategy."

"Second, we must recognize that the United States alone cannot stabilize the Middle East."

"Third, we must acknowledge that most of our policies are actually destabilizing the region."

"Fourth, we must redefine our purpose. It must be a stable region, not primarily a democratic Iraq."

"It is already too late to wait for some presidential candidate for 2008 to retrieve the situation. If Congress cannot act, it, too, will live in infamy."

These extracts only give the flavor of the article; read the whole thing.

With Odom's credentials, he provides those who know that the war is both wrong and badly fought with the intellectual weight and military credibility to take up the task that all too few are willing to engage in even now: ending the American military involvement in Iraq.

1 comment:

TheRiver said...

Methinks that political correctness is at fault here. Dare we utter the words that
Iraqis don't have what it takes to do a Democracy yet?

And if we do, are we thereby
impugning Muslims in general and Arab Muslims in particular? The problem
as I see it is,we've mistaken Democracy with the right to vote.

It is SO much more. One thing that is clear to almost anyone looking at this is the view that being an Iraqi is subordinate to being a Shiite or Sunni. Oops!

Now THAT'S not going to work.