Only The Iraqis Can Save Iraq
August 27 2003
After the terror attacks of August, the car-bombing of the Jordanian
embassy, the blowing up of the oil pipeline to Turkey and the water main
in Baghdad, and the truck-bombing of the U.N. headquarters, it is clear
that Iraq's fate rests with the Iraqi people.
If 25 million Iraqis are not willing to fight for a democratic future,
139,000 U.S. soldiers cannot win it for them. If President Bush cannot
persuade Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds to enlist in this guerrilla war –
which is about their future, not ours – he should start bringing the
troops home now.
Nor does the president have much time to decide. A Newsweek poll shows
69 percent of Americans concerned we are already bogged down and 60
percent believing the occupation of Iraq already costs too much.
Unless Iraqis stand up against the nationalist guerrillas and Islamic
warriors entering from Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Syria to kill our
soldiers and disrupt reconstruction, we cannot win this new war and
build for them a new nation.
In Vietnam, the Diem and Thieu-Ky governments and the army were with us.
Most Vietnamese detested the Viet Cong. After Tet in 1968, the South
Vietnamese enlisted, fought and died in the hundreds of thousands
But if Iraqis are not willing to fight, we should not do their fighting
for them. "Who would be free / Themselves must strike the blow," said
the poet Byron. Before we undertake a war some predict could last five
or 10 years, we have to know if the Iraqis care enough to commit
Ambassador Bremer and the Pentagon know the level of cooperation we are
receiving in the fighting and in running down the Islamic warriors.
Perhaps it is greater than some of us, 7,000 miles away, realize. But
from this vantage point, it appears the United States has built a fort
in the heart of Indian country. Iraqis seem to rejoice in the killing of
Where were the expressions of outrage by Sunni and Shiite imams over the
massacres at the Jordanian embassy and U.N. headquarters? Where are the
Iraqi leaders who curse and condemn those who kill U.S. soldiers? Are
the media failing to report the cooperation we are receiving?
When guerrillas dynamited the pipeline to Turkey and blew up the Baghdad
water main, it was not America they were targeting. They were denying
Iraqis the hard cash from their oil resources and denying them water in
the heat of summer. Where were the calls from imams to punish the men
who had done this?
President Bush may not realize it, but his entire foreign policy is at
risk in Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom may be studied in military schools
as a textbook example of how to invade a nation with an army inferior in
numbers. But it may also serve, as did the Afghan adventure of Brezhnev,
as a textbook example of how an empire places an army in an indefensible
position in inhospitable terrain amid a hostile population, and is
forced to execute a humiliating retreat that destroys its image of
Whether one supported or opposed the invasion, a fair accounting would
seem to be this: On the credit side of the ledger, Saddam's regime is
removed, the threat of its acquiring weapons of mass destruction gone.
Friendly nations appear impressed by, and unfriendly regimes intimidated
by, the raw display of U.S. power.
On the debit side, North Korea and Iran have not been deterred from
seeking nuclear weapons by our invasion, but seem to have been steeled
into rushing to complete their nuclear programs. And we have 139,000
U.S. soldiers enmeshed in a guerrilla war, the end of which we cannot
see, the outcome of which we do not know.
Before this war, not one act of terror against America was traced to
Saddam. But since his regime fell, 60 U.S. soldiers have been killed,
with hundreds more wounded, and Iraq has become the main battleground in
the War on Terror.
By invading Iraq, as Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution
states, we "have done the terrorists a favor by putting 200,000
Westerners within their reach." Now, they are coming from all over the
Islamic world to earn paradise by killing Americans in the Great Jihad.
President Bush needs to explain to his countrymen why we must fight,
now, with Saddam gone. He needs to determine if the Iraqi people are
willing to fight beside us, or if they prefer to be spectators as we
fight their war. And he needs to devise an exit strategy if we have now
gotten ourselves into yet another unwinnable war.
© 2003 Creators
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