Today I heard a radio interview with an American soldier and his family. The soldier has not been sent to Iraq (yet), but he anticipates being sent to Iraq with the next rotation of his unit, which has sent elements of the overall unit to Iraq. The parents of the young soldier dread the very idea of their son being potentially put in harm’s way by such a deployment, and the soldier has no enthusiasm for such a mission.
Yet, both parents and (soldier) son expressed a commonly heard rationale for accepting the likelihood of the soldier being sent to Iraq. The rationale goes something like: We know that the Iraq invasion was based on a lie, regarding Iraqi threats and weapons of mass destruction. We know that this war should never have occurred. HOWEVER, since we are now there, occupying the country, and since nearly two thousand American lives have been lost, we can’t just up and leave. We have to defeat the insurgency, and then we can leave.
Is this rationale rational? Was there an insurgency before American troops occupied Iraq? NO! What are the insurgents fighting about? THE AMERICAN OCCUPATION AND AMERICAN CONTROL OF IRAQ. Will the Americans ever defeat the Iraqi insurgency? NO! Even the military command of the U.S. increasingly hints that the American military occupation of Iraq is unsustainable.
The irrational rationale for continuing the occupation of Iraq is like a heroin addict saying they will quit taking the drug — after the next fix. The next fix renews the addiction and the addiction brings on the next fix. Until the chain of addiction is broken, the cycle will be self-sustaining.
America can bring about an end to the occupation of Iraq by defeating the insurgency. The insurgency is motivated by the occupation. The occupation must be ended, cold turkey, and then the insurgency will have no motivating factor.
The Republicans do not get it. The Democrats do not get it. The soldiers do not get it. The families of the soldiers do not get it. The U.S. must leave Iraq. Failure to do so not only hurts Iraqis, but it hurts America. America’s military is stressed and strained almost without precedent by this intractable leadership, which started with lies and continues with irrationality. Unfortunately, the final withdrawal from Iraq will not be the product of conscience, but of convenience. America will leave Iraq because America can no longer stand the sacrifice created by its own irrational mistake. The decision to leave Iraq will not be an honorable one — it is far too late for that. Honor is long lost in this situation. The only two choices available now are for a bad result, or a worse result. A bad result is to leave Iraq in 2005. A worse result is to leave in 2006. An even worse result is to leave in 2007. The later the withdrawal, the greater the sacrifice and the more enormous the suffering of all involved. There is no rational reason for America to remain in occupation of Iraq.