Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Protect your Enemies and Attack your Friends?

With the new funding bill being discussed for Iraq, both Republicans and Democrats are claiming a win. Many Democrats and Republicans have called for benchmarks and timetables for Iraq. The theory seems to be that if we only threaten the Iraqi government, things might go the way we want.

The current threat is if the Iraqi government doesn’t meet certain benchmarks, it jeopardizes reconstruction assistance. While the President has the option to wave these restrictions, the intent of this bill shouldn’t be glossed over. If signed into law, the US would tell Iraq that the Iraqi government must meet certain benchmarks, or the US will stop funding reconstruction projects in Iraq. I think it is imperative that we continue to fight in Iraq without a surrender date. However, what are we really saying to our allies with these benchmarks?

Many Democrats are constantly demanding we negotiate with Iran and Syria regarding Iraq. The Democrats look at Iran, look at its continued involvement in Iraq and its continued UN violations and decide that Iran is a country they can trust. Just today, the IAEA released a report saying Iran continues to violate UN resolutions. The IAEA says it can not assure the world that Iran is pursuing nuclear technology for exclusively peaceful purposes. If only we would negotiate with the leaders of Iran, they would help us in Iraq. How many of the Democratic presidential hopefuls have discussed having a conference in the Middle East to discuss Iraq with Syria and Iran? The Democrats would have us believe we can trust Iran.

However, when the Democrats turn their eyes on Iraq, they insist on benchmarks with teeth. If the Iraqi government can’t pass laws and meet benchmarks by a date set by politicians in DC, then we should stop funding reconstruction efforts in Iraq, or we should withdraw our troops and leave Iraq to the wolves. Let’s not forget that after 200+ years of experience with Democracy here in the US, we still miss the ball. Look at how long it takes our congress to pass laws. However the DNC would have the Iraqi government held to a higher standard.

It seems to me these roles should be reversed. If Iraq is our ally, we should be working with them to get their nation rebuilt. We should protect them from enemies who would assassinate her leaders and enslave her people while raping the nation of its natural resources. Surely the United States can be called on to protect its allies?

If the Democrats insist on passing benchmarks, then let’s look at an Iranian resolution. If the Iranian government can’t prove to the world that it is pursuing a purely peaceful nuclear program in the next 60 days, then we will cut off all economic ties and aid to Iran. I would not advocate using ground forces in Iran, but I read we have three carrier groups near Iran right now. If Iran continues to kill US soldiers in Iraq, then perhaps it is time to see how effectively our military can bomb one country while fighting a war in another one.

The Democrats have taken the saying of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer to a new and corrupted level. The Democrats seem to be saying, “Protect your enemies while attacking your friends.”


VirginiaDissentator said...

I have to take issue with what I see as some seriously partisan comments here. You accuse the Democrats of siding with Iran and holding Iraq to higher standards. In my mind, you should be able to hold a country to whom you have committed millions of dollars and thousands of troops to a higher standard than you would one whom you are not currently involved. If we put ground troops in Iran, I would expect that we would have higher expectations for their political stability / success.

Additionally, I'm curious as to what you think would be gained by bombing Iran from a distance. My initial opinion is that we would lose support from the few Arab countries that tolerate our presence in the region now, and that we would likely spark a larger fight in the area. What benefit, in your opinion, comes from bombing Iran?

Andy D said...

There is a lot for me to respond to in your comment, so let me try it one item at a time.

Yes, I think my comments were pretty “partisan”. I don’t think that is always a bad thing. When you are arguing for or against an ideal that is protected by one party and attacked by another, your comments will probably be partisan. The only ground I should probably give you is that there are too many Republicans who think the same way as many Democrats on this issue.

I agree with your argument on the “higher standard”, but only to a certain extent. We have blood and money riding on the outcome of Iraq. I think that does give us some leverage to hold them to a higher standard. I don’t think that is accomplished by threatening an ally. Most of the rhetoric out there surrounding benchmarks seems to infer that the Iraqis are sitting at home and watching American Idol while our soldiers die. That simply isn’t the case. The Iraqi casualties are pretty high. Many of the elected officials risk their life and their families’ lives by even participating in the government. I think we protect Iraq and do what we can for their government. I don’t think threatening to withhold reconstruction money or withdraw troops is helpful at this time.

Iran. To me there is one question with Iran: Are you willing to accept an Iran with a nuclear weapon? If the answer to that is “Yes”, then I think we let the UN handle this and leave Iran alone entirely. They claim to represent the world body, we have our hands full, they can deal with it.

However, I believe the answer to this question is a resounding “No”. If the current regime in Iran gets a nuclear weapon it is only a matter of time before it is detonated somewhere. The most likely target would be Washington or Tel Aviv. President Ahmadinejad has stated he would set off a nuclear weapon in Israel even if he knew there would be an immediate response against Iran. He says it is a war of attrition, and there are more Muslims than Jews. You don’t let a world figure with that mindset ever get a nuclear weapon. If we attacked Iran (even without ground forces) would there be anger at our country? Maybe. Sometimes doing the right thing isn’t the popular thing. That doesn’t mean you don’t do it, it means you do it anyway because it is the right thing to do.

familyman said...

Andy, you say the fact that the Democrats want to talk with Iran means they feel they can trust Iran. I don't get the logic.

Just because they feel we should negotiate with Iran doesn't necessarily mean they trust them.

Did we trust the Soviets? No but we negotiated with them tirelessly.

Negotiation with a country shouldn't be a reward for good behavior. Negotiation should be a means to encourage good behavior.

If I'm having a disagreement with someone, turning my back on them doesn't solve anything. Talking to them might.

Andy D said...

Welcome back Familyman, long time no see...

Iran has made it clear they aren’t interested in talking to anyone when it comes to their nuclear program. How many times have they ignored the UN? They haven’t even hidden the fact that they intend to go forward with their program no matter what. What is left to say? What could we possibly offer Iran that would have them stop their program? And at this point, do you trust them enough to believe they will not try to get a nuclear weapon?

Would you be willing to accept a nuclear Iran?

Brandon said...


I disagree with you that there shouldn't be benchmarks for Iraq's government to accomplish. We're not going to succeed in Iraq without the Iraqi's coming to a political reconciliation. If Iraq's leaders will not compromise with each other, than we shouldn't keep our troops in their country to get shot or blown up because the Shia politicians prefer to posture rather than work on solutions to end the sectarian fighting.

So far, Maliki and the previous prime ministers have shown little inclination or ability to help Iraq come together. The recent announcement that particularly notorious militia members are being removed from Iraq's security forces is a good start, but it's something that should have been a no-brainer move and done months ago.

I have almost no confidence in Maliki or the other high-ranking government officials who prefer to sit safe in the Green Zone while our soldiers and local politicians risk their lives, but maybe benchmarks will be the event that finally gets them off their complacent asses.

VirginiaDissentator said...

One of the many problems with the strategy of lobbing bombs into Iran simply because they're close to nuclear is that it sets a precedent. Are we going to bomb any country who refuses to halt a nuclear weapons program? I agree that Iran with a nuclear bomb is not beneficial to the world stage. But what about North Korea? There are only so many countries we can preemptively bomb to halt their weapons development.

Andy D said...

I believe we should put whatever pressure we can on the Iraqi government. However, I don’t believe benchmarks for reconstruction money or for military action works. The troops should be fighting a war that is independent of the progress the Iraqi government does or doesn’t make. If you want to tie reconstruction money to their progress, I think you have a better argument. I don’t like the cause and effect on that though. The Iraqi government misses a benchmark, and we stop putting money into rebuilding the country. That just doesn’t sit well with me.

Iran is a unique situation. Pre-emptive strikes on other countries must be decided on a case by case basis. Iran is the only nation that is looking for a nuclear weapon that is also run by a man who actually wants to use the weapon. The old mutually assured destruction will not work with Iran. If Iran ever gets a nuclear weapon, it is only a matter of time before that weapon goes off.

But you didn’t answer my question. Are you willing to accept a nuclear Iran?