Today is my birthday. It is also the anniversary of this little adventure called The White Papers.
It is also the 4th year of the Iraq war. The paranoid conspiracy theorist in my head still thinks that part of the reason for starting the war on my birthday was so that the neocons could get one more giant dig into a progressive. But I'm not really that important.
So it's four years into this pointless and badly planned war and no one seems to have any idea what to do about it. Surging is pointless, we don't have and can't commit enough troops to turn Iraq into the lock down, high security prison state that Bush dreams of. If we stay the course then the horrible bloodshed will either maintain its current intolerable level or, much more likely, get worse. And if we pull out, completely leave Iraq to its own devices, then there really will have been nothing gained and much lost after four years of horror and blood.
But pulling out is the only way for Iraq to find its footing and eventually some peace.
The current powers that be, namely Bush and Cheney and their foaming mouthed sycophants, still think we are a country capable of creating puppet "democracies" like we did in Latin America for most of the last century. But not this time. There was no real "Big Man" in Iraq like there was in Chile with Pinochet. Well, there was and we helped put him there, but recently the Iraqi people had their former leader executed.
The Iraqi people need the Americans out so that they can create their own government, be it a democracy or theocracy or flat out anarchy. It is not our place to force a government of any kind on Iraq. One of my favorite quotes is that "Democracy through tyranny is still tyranny". By imposing ourselves and our politics on Iraq we are the worst kind of tyrants- ineffective. If we could justify our presence in the country by showing that the Iraqis are now safe from violence or ethnic divisions, that they are free from the starvation and shortages that they suffered under Saddam because of the embargo, that they could even walk out of their houses everyday to go to work or school, then maybe we could justify staying in the country to promote peace. But everyday life for Iraqis becomes harder and we are the cause.
So we must pull out. It will cause a power vacuum, it will increase violence in the short-term, and every death that follows our leaving will be just as much our fault as the deaths that are caused by our being there. But the Iraqis will then have to deal with each other without the excuse of the Americans as occupiers to continue the violence. Without us there, then the influence of Al Qaida (that only exists since we have invaded Iraq, not before as the foaming mouths will have you believe) will diminish.
Iraq needs a chance to organically develop a leader to take charge of their country and as long as we are there that WILL NOT HAPPEN. Anyone who works with the Americans will be suspect as being a puppet, anyone who works against the Americans will be fodder for our troops. The Iraqis must have a chance for a strong leader to develop the support and organization needed to drag a country out of civil war. It will be bloody, it will most likely be another dictator, and the Sunni minority will probably be the biggest losers. But it is up to the Iraqis to fight or accept that. All we can do at this point is throw money at the infrastructure of the country that we destroyed (and not put that money through government contracts where palettes of money disappear like political Latin Americans in the 70s).
We have failed the soldiers of our country by putting them in harms way for reasons based on lies. We have failed the people of Iraq by taking them from a dictatorship that they knew to a bloody civil war where no one is safe. Saddam was certainly not a saint, but I am pretty sure most Iraqis would prefer a false sense of security over perpetual war. We must admit our hubris and withdraw.