THE BLOG

Growing Immorality, Creeping Complicity

11/19/2006 08:59 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

As the Korean armistice talks dragged on, brave Americans died taking "Pork Chop Hill", an insignificant piece of territory. The film by that name raised the issue of the morality of asking willing soldiers, trained to follow orders, to lose their lives and limbs in such a futile exercise, while politicians warmed and protected their rears.

Every day in Iraq we lose 3-4 US soldiers, with another 7-10 seriously wounded; every day George Bush allowed Don Rumsfeld to pursue his disastrous strategy awaiting the elections is an extra day of death and dismemberment. Every day the political class of both parties awaits the Iraq Study Group's report cost 10-15 families loved ones, and taxpayers $300 million, all to take Pork Chop Hill. Every day, the stay-the-course proponents have more blood on their hands. Every day, the rest of us, but especially those elected to bring this to an end, are guilty of creeping complicity.

The Iraq Study Group (whose members include such mideast experts as Ed Meese and Sandra Day O'Connor) cannot change the tragic truth that the formerly oppressed Shia majority, who share religious ties to Iran, now exercises power over the formerly ruling minority Sunnis who are hardly prepared to accept minority status, especially when the majority has been their hated foe for centuries. The Iraqi voter, whose courage must be applauded, nonetheless cast their ballots completely along sectarian lines. Engraft onto this skeleton the hatred and humiliation deeply felt by all sides from the presence of western boots on muslim soil, and you have the recipe for the mess Bush has created.

Much is made of the dangers to the United States if we leave the current situation to spin (further) out of control without our presence and guidance. John McCain, who should know better, claims this to be different from Vietnam because, with Vietnam, they were not going to attack us over here. Any careful reading of the Vietnam era, however, belies such statements: similar claims were made about fallen dominoes and the "red" menace coming to the shores of the United States. Leaving Vietnam, it was argued, would embolden the Communists, reduce our credibility among our friends, and expose the US to infiltration. In those days ordinary citizens were urged to build bomb shelters, not just to stock up on duct tape.

Those overly hyped fears were unfounded and, like today, used to try to sustain public support to rescue what is the left of the reputations of vainglorious politicians. We are there, the Administrations told the American people, and therefore we should stay. Following our withdrawal, however, the Vietnam/China alliance fell apart into a shooting border war, and there were competing Communist movements in Southeast Asia fully consumed with their own internecine warfare. [Much of the regional instability that provided a power vacuum in Southeast Asia for Vietnam was caused by the US and its invasion, not dissimilar to the situation in Iraq]. Similarly, it is at least as likely that our withdrawal would lead to Iraqi factions fighting al-Qaeda as the remaining foreign invader, there being no evidence that Iraqis are any more attuned to living under the yoke of radical fundamentalism (of a Sunni slant) than they will accede to western occupation.

The American people are now being bombarded with multiple plans for "victory" in Iraq. John McCain says to send more troops---we do not have them. Republican Presidential candidate, and current House Armed Services Committee chairman, Duncan Hunter says we need to "saddle up the Iraqi forces and move them to Baghdad and Anbar Province--but, they will not go. The Iraq Study Group will recommend some complicated scheme of "pressuring the Iraqi government", engaging Iran and Syria, and, perhaps, setting some benchmarks that are either achieved, or, if not, to move to partition---but the Iraqi government has no will, or ability, to quash the militia, and partition is not something we can force upon them.

The stubborn truth is that nothing we do is going to change the final outcome. What that outcome will be is unknown, although it would not be surprising if Iran's influence in southern Iraq (where 80% of Iraq's oil is) grew perhaps to the point of a loose federation, and the Kurds will remain autonomous in everything perhaps but in name. Baghdad neighborhoods will probably be "cleansed" of one group or another, and similar events will occur in other "mixed" cities.

Although that outcome is gruesome, and for which we bear major responsibility, nothing we do will do anything but delay it. Even if--a really big if--we were somehow able to get a handle on the current situation, and establish a working government with some ability to guard its borders and streets, there is negligible likelihood that that situation will remain after we leave.

Because of our major responsibility for this mess, the moral course of action includes, in part, protecting (including allowing to immigrate) those who cast their lots with the United States. But, it is highly immoral to ask US soldiers to risk life and limb marching up and down the Pork Chop Hill streets of Baghdad and Fallujah. Every day that continues, the immorality grows. Having now been handed responsibility by the electorate, every day Democrats' "await the ISG report" is a day of creeping complicity.