Sunday, November 19, 2006

Other Exit Strategies for Iraq

My Dad sent me an article a few days ago from the Armed Forces Journal. In it, Mr. Ralph Peters has a very interesting article on possible alternatives for Iraq. He purposes four or five potential exit strategies I haven’t heard discussed any where else. All of the debate I have heard in the media has revolved around three central strategies for Iraq. The first was summed up best by the President, “Stay the Course.” The other two revolve around either increasing or decreasing the current troop levels in Iraq.

Mr. Peters argues that there are many other options that are found between these three plans. He makes a compelling argument that we must examine theories that might be “outside the box” in order to find a solution that works best for our nation. Any course of action in Iraq must be governed by what is best for American interests first, Iraq second, and the rest of the world last. Regardless of anyone’s feelings about why we as a nation went into Iraq, we are there now. We have a responsibility for the outcome in Iraq. We must also look at what consequences any resulting strategy might cause. If we were to suddenly pull all of our troops from Iraq, what would our enemies do next? What lessons will they take from our actions? To cut and run from Iraq without regard to the results would be irresponsible. We have a responsibility to our troops, to our citizens, and the citizens of Iraq.

I have often thought that a withdrawal from Iraq would be a disaster. It would show our allies that we don’t have the fortitude to stay with them in tough times. It would show our enemies that we are in fact a paper tiger, and it would invite them to follow us home and attack us here. However, Mr. Peters illustrates a few other options that might allow us to withdraw, and still send a clear message to both our enemies and our allies. Perhaps a sudden all out military push, where every group organized against us is hit and hit hard is the way to send a message before withdrawing. Mr. Peter states in one of his alternative plans:

“If we do leave, we should go out shooting. All anti-government factions should suffer — the gloves should come off at last. The one thing we cannot afford is a popular view that our troops have been defeated. They haven't been. We will have to make that clear. Our withdrawal should be conducted under conditions that push our enemies bloodily onto the defensive as we make our exit, and we should not worry about collateral damage. If we leave Iraq, we must leave the world with a perception of American strength — and ruthlessness, when required. We can afford being seen as heavy-handed, but we can't afford being seen as weak.”

I feel anyone really looking for a solution to Iraq must read Mr. Peters articles. Mr. Peters says in his article that some of his solutions aren’t realistic, but they illustrate a need to think outside the box. He also goes to great lengths to point out that as long as the Iraqis are willing to fight and die for their new government, we need to help them do that. They will need to fight harder than those in the country who would have them live in tyranny. We can’t fight for them forever, nor should we. However, a democracy in the Middle East is in America’s best interest. Any solution must balance our responsibilities and what best serves our nation both now and in the future.

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