Getting comfortable with being stuck

Getting comfortable with being stuck

Yousef Munayyer

Special to AAF

Before the war the ideal solution for Iraq would have been a popular revolution to remove a corrupt regime and establish a democratically elected government that would act on the will of its people. The reality is far from the ideal. There was an American invasion that led to the toppling of the regime and has been received by a stiff Iraqi resistance. The situation now is critical. The United States cannot win but cannot afford to lose in Iraq. We need to get comfortable with this because the status quo will not change anytime soon.

When asked what they would like to see happen many may say they want an immediate withdrawal of American forces from the country. There can be nothing further from American and Iraqi interests than that. US Forces must remain in Iraq because the cost of the alternative is much greater for Iraqis and Americans alike. Let us be clear. I do not like the fact that foreign troops are on Iraqi soil. However, Iraq is the creation of colonialism and the interests of multiple western powers and was unnaturally forged into creation by these interests. If US forces leave now, as many people are hoping for, there will be chaos in Iraq. Stability is necessary and is in the interest of the entire world. With constant bloodshed and upheaval in Iraq and increasingly hostile rhetoric from neighboring Iran an American withdrawal anytime soon could spell disaster for the region. At the same time, America is paying the price in Iraq. It is possible that even after 10 years of an American presence in Iraq that the situation would deteriorate into civil war. This is a risk that the US has no choice but to take.

If you ever go into a china shop and break an item unintentionally you will have to pay for that item. The US has broken Iraq. We can argue for days about how well it had been stuck together, or whether it was broke unintentionally but this is now irrelevant to the withdrawal debate. Those who are talking about withdrawal now are doing so with political intentions to take down the President of the United States. While the President certainly erred in leading the nation into this war of choice and should be held accountable for this by the American people, a withdrawal any time soon is not the answer. This game is political. It is so political in fact that any Democrat elected for the highest office in this nation will have no choice but to maintain an American presence in Iraq.

The real battle for democracy is here in the United States. In our system, which is supposed to be transparent, accountability is necessary for operating under principles of justice. We have acquired a burden that we otherwise should not have to deal with. We have a liability no that is costing us lives and leaving will cost us more in the future.

To be perfectly clear if this war was not about oil at its inception it certainly is now. The instability in the region has driven the price of oil to new heights. The outlook for the oil market suggests high prices for as long as the future of Iraq is unclear so the US simply cannot afford to leave.
When the President says “we must stay the course” he is right. Leaving Iraq anytime soon would cause the fragile situation to shatter. The question Americans need to ask is not whether we should stay the course. Rather we need to decide who should be leading the way and those who have proven incapable should be held accountable for their betrayal of public trust. Perhaps a new administration, honest about American interests, would be a breath of fresh air to the Iraqi and American people alike. If the Iraqis can see that American politicians are not even being honest with the American people they will only continue to be skeptical and suspicious about American policies abroad.

We have to get comfortable with the uncomfortable but at the same time analyze why we have been steered into this catch-22. A new dictatorship in Iraq is not the biggest failure; rather the biggest failure is constant instability into the future. Should Iraq follow the paradigm of Afghanistan in the post-soviet era we are in for very difficult times ahead. It took the Soviets a decade to leave Afghanistan and the stakes in Iraq are much higher.