Pipes on Iraq

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Recently, on HBL, Harry Binswanger made a vital connection concerning the question of what our country should do about Iraq: that the question is really only a distraction from the real issue, which is, "What are we going to do about Iran?"

Given Iran's role in aiding international terrorists, inspiring other Islamic totalitarians the world over, and killing our men in Iraq, Binswanger's reasoning is, as I understand it, that what we do about that threat relegates any question concerning whether we should stay within Iraq or leave it to a question of what is best for us, militarily, within that greater context. If we elected to stay in Iraq after pummeling Iran, our job there (assuming we had a good reason to stay) would become far easier. And if we left, one of our main enemies will have been been defeated. Our leaving would hardly be taken as cowardice.

After considering that line of reasoning, it is interesting to look at Daniel Pipes' answer to the Iraq question in FrontPage Magazine. But before doing this, I must state that I find that the following assessment flies in the face of everything our President has done since toppling Saddam Hussein's regime: "President George W. Bush is right to insist on keeping troops in Iraq."

Why? Because everything we have done in Iraq has been in lip-service (at best) to protecting American interests and in fact to performing the impossible: claiming to give "freedom" and "democracy" (but merely handing political power) to a people whose culture will not permit freedom to exist for long, except by accident.

With a turn towards a rational policy of self-defense, one could reasonably keep troops in Iraq (just as invading Iraq could have served our nation's self-defense). However, I have seen no solid evidence that our President is pursuing a military victory over our foe -- the Islamic totalitarians -- whom he has still never even named. As far as I can tell, no such turn has occurred, and our President is keeping our troops in Iraq for the wrong reasons.

With that out of the way, Daniel Pipes outlines one of the more reasonable proposals about what we should do about Iraq that I have seen recently. He proposes that we salvage the Iraq war by "stay[ing] the course, but chang[ing] the course".

In part, America's credibility is on the line. The country cannot afford what Victor Davis Hanson notes would be its first-ever battlefield flight. The cut-and-run crowd deludes itself on this point. Senator George Voinovich (Republican of Ohio) holds that "If everyone knows we're leaving [Iraq], it will put the fear of God in them," to which Jeff Jacoby sardonically replies in the Boston Globe: sure, "Nothing scares al-Qaeda like seeing Americans in retreat."

The troops should remain in Iraq for another reason too: Iraq offers an unrivaled base from which to influence developments in the world's most volatile theater. Coalition governments can use them to:
  • Contain or rollback the Iranian and Syrian governments.
  • Assure the free flow of oil and gas.
  • Fight Al-Qaeda and other international terrorist organizations.
  • Provide a benign presence in Iraq. [some formatting changes]
Note how unsatisfying this is. Iran, the elephant in the room is mentioned -- as if having an elephant in the room is a normal thing. Every single aspect of this proposal would be better addressed by moving ruthlessly against Iran. Except, possibly, the last, and it needn't be addressed so long as America's interests are served. Moreover, if we fail to do anything more against Iran militarily, I don't see much of a difference between this proposal and what we are doing now.

As much respect as I have for Daniel Pipes, I must say that this article shows that there is no substitute for the goal of victory as a way to cut through the fog when contemplating predicaments like Iraq.

-- CAV

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