There are those who say we can’t help Iraq become a Democracy; they’re wrong. They say we should pull out; they’re mistaken. They claim it’s pointless to continue, but they have no sense of history or perspective.
To those who say…
A lot of Iraqis have soured on the occupation and don’t like American troops!:Gee, I wonder how popular American troops were in Hiroshima and Nagasaki a year after we dropped nukes on them? How about in Dresden where we, along with along with the British, firebombed the city and killed 30,000 people? Even though we weren’t loved, we still made it work in post-war Japan and Germany. Certainly our troops today can do the same thing in a country like Iraq where our soldiers are dealing with a population that is, for the most part at least, grateful to us for removing Saddam.
All the Iraqis hate us because of the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. Democracy is impossible now! I’ve seen little evidence beyond pure supposition to support that. In fact, to the contrary, there’s more than a little evidence that the majority of Kurds and Shias weren’t terribly upset by the idea that Sunnis, who had been torturing their people for decades, were getting a dose of their own medicine. That’s not to say that what happened at Abu Ghraib helped matters, but the idea that it was some sort of crippling blow to Democracy in Iraq is sheer nonsense peddled for the most part by the same people who opposed the war in Iraq all along.
It has been more than a year since we invaded, why isn’t Iraq Switzerland yet?People don’t usually put it like this, but this is in effect what they mean. What I say to that is “Was our occupation in Germany or Japan done in a year”? How long did we have to stay in South Korea helping them towards freedom? To think that we should be able to take a war torn country full of people who have lived under a tyrant their whole lives and magically transform them into a stable, prospering, democracy in little over a year is expecting too much, too soon.
Look how many American soldiers have been killed in Iraq. We can’t keep that up!: We should never forget the American lives lost in Iraq, nor the soldiers who have been wounded. It’s a terrible thing for an American to have to die or lose a limb fighting in a foreign land. Moreover, we should not minimize the grief and hardship it causes for their friends and families. There’s no such thing as “light casualties” to someone who has had a loved one killed or injured in combat.
However, we must also remember that we have lost a very small number of soldiers in Iraq compared to other conflicts America has been engaged in during our history. Just to give you an idea of what I’m talking about, from the time we invaded until now, it has been roughly 14 1/2 months. In that time, we’ve had 784fatalities in Iraq. Let’s say we lost that many every year from now on in Iraq. According to the statistics I gathered from the United States Combat Casualty Digest, it would take…
717 years to = the 562,130 American lives lost on both sides of the Civil War
148 years to = the 116,708 American lives lost in WW1
520 years to = the 408,306 American lives lost in WW2
69 years to = the 54,246 American lives lost in the Korean War
74 years to = the 58,219 American lives lost in the Vietnam War
Make no mistake about it, we’re capable of hanging in there. Especially since cutting and running now would mean that the soldiers who have already given their lives would have died in vain.
We need more troops in Iraq to succeed and why haven’t the marines rampaged through Fallujah yet? We’re not doing enough militarily to win in Iraq right now!: The generals in Iraq are not currently asking for more troops and the marines on the ground in Fallujah ultimately made the decision to hand that city over to Iraqi forces. Our military forces are not only the best the world has ever seen, they’re on the ground in Iraq and have a better understanding of what’s going on than anyone stateside. As far as I’m concerned, they have a better handle on combat operations in Iraq than any grandstanding politicians, knowitall ex-generals, or pontificating pundits. I trust our military’s judgement in these matters and so should everyone else.
Why don’t we have a plan? If we had a plan everything would be smooth sailing. Without a plan we can’t succeed!: Look, there is no such thing as an “Idiot’s Guide to Turning Arab Nations Into Democracies”. It has been tougher than expected in Iraq, but on the other hand there have been local elections, we turn over partial sovereignty at the end of June, we have elections scheduled for Jan of 2005, Al-Sadr’s unpopular insurgency is petering out and Fallujah is quiet for the moment. Obviously, we do have a plan and it’s working, even if things haven’t been as smooth as we’d like.
Why aren’t the Iraqis doing something for themselves? We have to handle all the security and they don’t even care!: Right now, there are 200,000 members of the Iraqi Army, Civil Defense Corps, police services, border patrol and infrastructure protection agency and we’re adding more of them and improving their training all the time. We don’t know how long it’ll be until the Iraqis can handle their own security without our help, but that time is getting closer every day.
Make no mistake about it, the biggest threat to Iraqi Democracy is not civil war between the Sunnis and Shias or a major uprising against the US, it’s American resolve. If we have the courage to persevere, we can help the Iraqis rule themselves instead of — to our eternal shame — abandoning them to some “benevolent” dictator or pulling out before they’re ready and creating the conditions that would make a civil war likely. What we’re doing is right, just, in our interests, and succeeding. At this point, we just need to stick in there, support the troops, and most importantly, don’t go wobbly on Iraq!