Upon hearing the news regarding the new U.S.-Iraq "declaration of principles," I immediately reflected back on my final weeks in Iraq.
My fellow soldiers and I facetiously exchanged our ideas of our future military role in Iraq. We hoped that we would only return for peace-keeping missions years later. Naturally, that was the most acceptable and mentally comforting forecast -- so we latched onto it. Looking back on it now I would have to say that we just hoped for the best. After all, what else could we do?
As we enter our fifth year of war in Iraq with no real hope for a peaceful outcome -- I am stunned by the idea of a permanent U.S. troop presence there. How could Bush make this commitment to a fragile Iraqi government while he has only 14 months left in office?
Bush made this pledge with Nouri Al-Maliki while Republican Senators are threatening to cut off political and financial aid to Iraq's government -- and even suggesting that Maliki may need to be removed.
Even more frustrating is that the candidates running for president can't offer any concrete solution at a time when the American people absolutely demand an alternative. The Republicans have an indifferent attitude towards George Bush and support the continued occupation of Iraq. The Democrats simply state the safest and most politically acceptable versions of staying the course... counter-insurgency, training Iraqi security forces, and protecting U.S. infrastructure. Unfortunately, we will be staying in Iraq for a while in some capacity.
So while the temporary and unsustainable troop surge is scheduled to begin it's conclusion in July, we are only provided with more signs of false hope. This is the beginning of Bush's plan for a long-lasting U.S. presence in the Middle East. Sadly, it appears that our next president, regardless of political party affiliation, will attempt to carry out this mission that has no chance of success.
The arrogant assumption that the Iraqis will let us stay in their land forever is a flat out denial of reality. The insurgency emerged from the realization of the Iraqi people that the U.S. had no intention to leave after taking out Saddam. An open and public announcement to the world that we are staying indefinitely will surely exacerbate the Iraqi resistance to our continued presence. This is also the #1 recruiting tool for terrorist organizations in the Middle East.
Who pays the price? U.S. troops, innocent Iraqi people, and the American taxpayer. Who benefits? Who really knows at this point?
There are no good options. If we stay the course it is inevitable that we will only have a perpetual war that is not winnable. If we pull out the Iraqis will go into a chaotic multi-front civil war -- even worse than the current situation. We can't control the violence now with 165,000 troops on the ground. We can't add more troops to help pacify the violence because we don't have them. So when we do start to gradually withdraw from Iraq those troops left remaining will be subjected to intensified insurgent attacks (hourly) due to the diminishing of military manpower and reinforcements.
I know that this sounds very ominous, but we can't deny the logic.
The remedy for Iraq is not a permanent presence of the U.S. military. Even George Bush knows this is not an option and that is precisely the reason why he is purposely going to pass this catastrophe off to the next president.
When we leave Iraq it will be ugly -- make no mistake about that. It doesn't matter whether we leave 10 weeks from now, 10 months from now, or 10 years from now -- but the longer we stay the uglier it will be.
I wish I were wrong but this analysis is indisputable. Congress must finally accept that we are engaged in a dire calamity and force this administration to change course. Non-binding war funding bills for Bush to veto will not solve the problem. It has long been proven that George Bush is too incompetent to manage this war. It is totally irresponsible to allow him to operate without strong Congressional oversight. However unpopular it may be, micromanagement is the obvious and necessary solution.