Ignoring Consequences, Democrats Push Hard for Iraq Withdrawal

By: Greg C. Reeson

The Washington Times reported June 11 that Democrats in the House and Senate are currently circulating more than forty pieces of legislation that would seek to end America’s involvement in Iraq. The Times quotes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid as saying, “We’re fairly well set up now as to how we’re going to do it and when we’re going to do it.”

What’s emerging in the Congress is a Democrat plan to bombard President Bush with bill after bill after bill calling for troop withdrawals over very short periods of time. By forcing such legislation through Congress, Democrats, who know the President will veto the measures, hope to keep up the attacks on President Bush and Congressional Republicans as part of an overarching strategy to maximize their chances of success in the 2008 elections.

By playing on the public’s growing disillusionment with the war in Iraq, Democrats are ignoring the very real consequences for our national security that will inevitably accompany a premature troop withdrawal, and they are doing so purely for political advantage. Though I’ve written about the likely consequences before, it’s important to review them once again:

1) Iranian influence throughout the Middle East will be substantially increased, and Tehran will feel even more empowered to continue the development of nuclear technology in open defiance of an impotent United Nations.

2) Iran will be able to continue to impede any possible progress in Iraq, without interference from the U.S., and will likely help Iraqi Shi’a consolidate power in a fashion that will guarantee a pro-Iranian government in Baghdad.

3) Syria and Hezbollah will continue to be used by an even more powerful Iran in limited proxy wars with Israel that kill innocent civilians and threaten unrest throughout the entire region.

4) Terrorists everywhere will see an American departure from Iraq as a victory along the lines of the defeat of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. They will rally radical elements to their cause and will begin in earnest the systematic targeting of pro-Western, secular Arab governments.

5) Iraq will complete its devolution into a classic failed state, sending hundreds of thousands of refugees across the borders of neighboring states, further destabilizing the Middle East.

6) A wider regional war may ensue as Sunni governments, who are increasingly nervous about an Iran-led Shiite ascendancy in the Middle East, may feel they have no choice but to act on their threats to intervene in Iraq on behalf of the Sunni minority.

7) The Kurds, already pushing hard to consolidate their position of autonomy, may take advantage of the power vacuum created by a U.S. departure to declare their independence, provoking Turkey, Iran and Syria into military action to crush Kurdish terrorist elements and prevent the establishment of an independent Kurdistan.

The risks to our long-term national security are potentially very grave and must be considered when discussing what course we should take in Iraq. Yet the risks that I just outlined are being dismissed out of hand by the congressional majority while Democrat leaders clamor repeatedly that Republicans will pay at the voting booth for continuing the Iraq war.

And don’t be fooled by the promises to keep “just enough forces to train the Iraqis and fight al-Qaeda.” It may be a great political statement, but the concept begins to fall apart once you get beyond the words and focus on what that strategy really entails.

Despite a late start training Iraqi security forces, the program is fully underway now and is due to be increased throughout 2007. Part of that training involves conducting combat operations alongside Iraqi units, not just providing instruction inside of a base camp and sending them out to face a ruthless insurgency on their own. Compare the idea to teaching a child to ride a bicycle or drive a car. You wouldn’t give them a lesson in the comfort of your living room and then send them out to engage in a potentially dangerous activity without providing the necessary guiding hand to help them along until they are able to do it on their own. The analogy may seem simplistic, but the principle is the same.

And when conducting offensive combat operations, there is no way to separate al-Qaeda from the various other elements contributing to the violence in Iraq. It would be nice if al-Qaeda members stayed in one place, all bunched together, so that we could end the terrorist problem once and for all. Unfortunately, that’s not the case and al-Qaeda is not in one place, but scattered throughout the country, intermingled with the population, and conducting attacks not just on Americans, but on Shi’a and Sunni as well.

Brave young Americans are bleeding and dying in the cities and on the roads of Iraq every day. Our elected leaders owe it to them and to us as a nation to put partisan politics aside and frankly debate what might happen if American forces are prematurely withdrawn, especially if the consequences of withdrawal could result in those same young Americans being sent back to Iraq, or elsewhere in the region, to clean up the mess.

Greg C. Reeson’s Blog

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