Tags: Iraqis | Need | Solve | Their | Own | Problems

Iraqis Need to Solve Their Own Problems

Thursday, 18 August 2005 12:00 AM

Our goal at the start of the war was to end Iraq's ability to threaten its regional neighbors and the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. We also wanted to stop Iraq from giving support to terrorist groups, as it often did in the past. Saddam Hussein, in fact, paid rewards to the families of suicide bombers who murdered Israelis.

Although Saddam used poison gas against the Kurds and against Iran, those weapons have not been found. U.S. policy then focused on another goal: changing the structure of Iraq's government and helping it become a democracy.

The three major ethnic groups in Iraq – Shia (60 percent), Kurds (20 percent) and Sunnis (20 percent), who for hundreds of years have struggled with one another – appear ready to embark upon such a democratic experiment under enormous pressure from the U.S. However, the desire amongst the various groups to divide Iraq along ethnic and religious grounds continues unabated.

The Kurds want their own secular country in the north with independence or broad autonomy; the Shia want a theocracy in the south, similar to Iran's, and are threatening to abridge civil rights, including the voting, marital and property rights of women; and the Sunni, located in the middle of the country, surrounding Baghdad, want a more secular government, hoping to reimpose themselves on the other two groups, as they did under Saddam Hussein.

The rivalries among the three groups are enormous. No matter what the Iraqi factions agree to under pressure from the U.S. to meet an August deadline, they may very well tear all agreements asunder when we ultimately leave.

Most of the rest of the world, including France and Germany, is delighted that we have been willing to sacrifice the blood of our young men and women, with 1,850 deaths and 13,769 casualties to date, and the expenditure in excess of $200 billion to win the war, repair the country's infrastructure and maintain law and order, with limited success.

The cost in blood and money is no longer worth it, and we should get out, leaving it to the Iraqis to solve their problems with the aid of the United Nations. We did what was right under the circumstances, but the time has arrived to come home.

Major security problems face us elsewhere, including the threat of nuclear arms in North Korea and a similar threat developing in Iran, as well as military threats by China against Taiwan and threats by Syria, which allows suicide bombers to enter Iraq. Being bogged down in Iraq limits our capability to respond to these threats and others.

President George W. Bush has stressed that it would be wrong to set a date for withdrawal because that would only encourage the insurrectionists and terrorists to wait us out and take over when we leave. The president has told the American public that we will leave when the Iraqi army, now 170,000 strong, is capable of defending the country. The effort to retrain the Iraqi army, which prior to its defeat in 2003 consisted of more than 1 million soldiers, has been going on for more than a year.

Why are the insurgents and terrorists so capable of wreaking havoc and their fellow countrymen in the reconstituted Iraqi army so incapable of standing up to and defeating them, except for perhaps a reported 10,000 elite Iraqi soldiers? How was it possible for the U.S. to train American soldiers in World War II, making them combat ready after 17 weeks of basic training?

Americans are dying and suffering grievous injuries almost daily because Iraqi soldiers are allegedly not combat ready. They may not be combat willing.

In the '80s, Iraq and Iran fought a deadly war for eight years, with a million casualties between them. How did the Iraqi army now being called on again lose all of its military might and skills?

While it is true that the army was dismantled at the end of the war to oust Saddam Hussein by Paul Bremer, then in effect U.S. viceroy in Iraq – a truly stupid decision, especially in view of the looting that followed – that army surely could have been reconstituted in significant part by now and made combat worthy.

The struggle is, I repeat, simply not worth it. Bring our soldiers home. There is no shame in having accomplished our original goal, recognizing we have done our best to help the Iraqi people and been unable to compel them to achieve a permanent solution to their fractured nation.

The disunity facing Iraq is caused primarily by religious and ethnic intolerance, which has existed for centuries. Such problems are not resolvable in the foreseeable future.

In any event, it is for the Iraqis to work them out. We Americans have done all we can and should leave with our honor intact.


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Our goal at the start of the war was to end Iraq's ability to threaten its regional neighbors and the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction. We also wanted to stop Iraq from giving support to terrorist groups, as it often did in the past.Saddam Hussein, in fact, paid...
Thursday, 18 August 2005 12:00 AM
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