Against Iraqification

Fareed Zakaria has a very powerful essay in which he argues that turning over sovereignty to the Iraqis won’t solve Iraq’s security problems. Zakaria’s argument is both troubling and important.

Zakaria’s analysis is borne out by the fact that the terrorists haven’t been attacking on coalition troops, they’ve been attacking anyone who is working towards a free and democratic Iraq. Assuming that an Iraqi-controlled government will end these attacks may be an assumption that simply doesn’t work.

It is clear that a hasty pullout is not an acceptable option if the goal of keeping Iraq from degenerating into a terrrorist hotspot. Zakaria is also right that while there is certainly a pressing need for more Iraqi troops to take US soldiers off the streets and onto the hunt, you can’t accelerate the training program beyond a certain point. As Zakaria rightly points out, it would be foolish to assume that a group of ragtag New Iraqi Army troops would far better against the insurgents than would well-trained and equipped US troops.

The fact is, the worst thing we could do is turn over control to the Iraqis too soon. There has to be a leadership team in Iraq that can effectively take control of the country. Until that happens, even replacing the US troops with Iraqi troops will only make things worse.

This isn’t an impossible goal. The Iraqi people are firmly on our side – they’re the ones taking fire right along with our troops. Those fighting the Americans are mainly Saddam’s diehard troops and foreign fighters. The average Iraqi on the street may not like the presence of US troops, but they also know that without us they would be right back into the nightmare of Ba’athist rule.

Secretary Rumsfeld was right – we’re not being bold enough in the war on terrorism. We’re still to worried about offending the sensibilities of “moderate” Muslims who talk peace while writing checks to Hamas. We have a very simple choice – either we embrace the importance of winning this war or we accept that every few years a couple thousand American civilians get vaporized. Winning this war means remaking the Middle East and upsetting the bloody status quo. It means collateral damage, frayed relations, and difficult sacrifices. It means that we will be expending blood and treasure in order to achieve that objective.

The alternative is another September 11, except quite likely with the use of chemical and biological weapons. Even more likely – America becomes the next Israel, with suicide bombers sneaking into our country and causes random of acts of destructive violence.

We simply cannot allow that to happen. We cannot simply accept becoming slaves to terrorism. Once that precedent is set, and we came dangerously close throughout the 1990s, we only invite more and bloodier attacks.

in the end, there can be no shirking of our national responsibility. We have to establish democratic rule in Iraq as a way of counterbalancing the cultural failure of the Arab world. That goal is absolutely critical to the war on terrorism. If we fail in Iraq, we will have practically conceded that terrorism works. Kill a few Americans and we pull back – exactly what Osama bin Laden said we would do. Unless we prove him wrong, we should expect that the scenes we’re seeing in Baghdad will be coming here all too soon.

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