Highlights

 
Quotable
A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
Edward Abbey
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
April 7, 2004

Is Failure Now an Option?


by Patrick J. Buchanan

"No one knows how America's occupation of Iraq will play out. Optimists say this will be like Germany and Japan after World War II. ... Pessimists point to Lebanon and Israel's invasion of 1982.

"Put me down among the pessimists. I think Brer Rabbit just hit the tar baby." So I wrote, a year ago, as our tanks rolled into Baghdad.

Last week's Fallujah horror, the separate killing of five U.S. soldiers that same day, and 10 more over the weekend in battles with Shi'ite radicals, suggests we did indeed hit the tar baby when the 3rd Infantry Division crossed the Line of Demarcation.

Iraq was a war of choice, not a war of necessity. Saddam had no role in 9-11, no ties to Al Qaeda, no WMD the programmed liars of the Iraqi National Congress notwithstanding. We all know it now.

Even Colin Powell is saying the case for war he made to the United Nations was based on bad intelligence and he might have argued differently in the war Cabinet had he known it. Nevertheless, as Dean Rusk used to say, "We are there, and we are committed."

What Fallujah and the Shi'ite attacks Sunday tell us is that failure is now an option. We have not pacified the Sunni Triangle. In towns like Fallujah, Americans are at greater risk than Israelis in Gaza. Even before the radical Shi'ites clashed with our troops in Baghdad, geostrategist Anthony Cordesman was warning that defense officials were telling him, "New combatants are emerging as fast as we kill or capture the old ones."

But if the Iraqi resistance is recruiting fighters faster than we kill or capture them, and Shi'ites are joining the resistance, and we are drawing down our troop levels and handing over power to Iraqis, how do we win?

We cannot. Either we accept the possibility of defeat, or adopt the McCain option: more boots on the ground, more divisions in Iraq. In Gen. MacArthur's words, as he suddenly encountered Chinese troops as he marched to the Yalu, it is "an entirely new war."

Writing in The National Interest, U.S. diplomat Morton Abramowitz says the United States can yet withdraw without grave damage to its vital interests:

"America's pre-eminent power position in the world can endure an early withdrawal from Iraq. ... Indeed, one can make the case that U.S. forces are so overstretched that a withdrawal might enhance our overall power position and our capacity to do more about Osama bin Laden and other terrorist groups."

Cordesman believes defeat in Iraq would be an American disaster far greater than Vietnam.

"Regardless of whether the United States should have invaded Iraq, the fact is that it did. Its power and prestige are on the line. It also has stakes in the future of allied leaders in Britain, Australia, Italy, Spain, Poland. ... Its influence in the Persian Gulf with some 60 percent of the world's proven reserves of crude oil is at risk, as is its strategic position in the rest of the Middle East. If the United States abandons Iraq, it hands Islamic extremists all over the world a decisive victory, and effectively makes Osama bin Laden the victor ..."

Yet even Cordesman suggests there may be a window out of Iraq, with honor and perhaps without disastrous consequences.

"Must the United States remain in Iraq until it succeeds there? No. If the Iraqis reject U.S. support through their own government or if they engage in civil war, no one will fault the United States for exiting. In every other scenario, however, withdrawal will be a serious defeat."

But if a regime comes to power that tells us to get out, or Iraq disintegrates in civil war, is not George W. Bush a failed president?

What explanation does he then offer the families who will have lost 1,000 men? What does he tell a nation that plunged $200 billion into Iraq as to why we invaded in the first place? To find WMD that did not exist? To introduce democracy to the Middle East?

Fallujah is not Iraq, Cordesman reminds us. True. It is a hot pocket of hatred for America. It does not represent all Sunnis, who are 20 percent of the population, or the Kurds or Shi'ites. But if we cannot pacify Fallujah with the best soldiers in the world, how can we expect the pro-American Iraqis to do it after we draw down our forces and depart?

That is why we are probably not leaving for a long, long time. For should we go and should Baghdad fall, as Saigon fell, Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld enter the history books beside Johnson, McNamara and Rusk.

Like the man said, we are there and we are committed.

To find out more about Patrick J. Buchanan and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Can Uncle Sam Ever Let Go?
    3/27/2009

  • Of Patriots and Assassins
    3/17/2009

  • Return of the War Party
    2/27/2009

  • The Long Retreat
    2/20/2009

  • Obama and the Great Game
    2/13/2009

  • A Bibi-Barack Collision?
    1/27/2009

  • Is Ehud's Poodle Acting Up?
    1/17/2009

  • Bush, Obama, and
    the Gaza Blitz
    12/30/2008

  • Obama's War
    12/19/2008

  • Can This Marriage Last?
    12/5/2008

  • The Rationale of Terror
    12/2/2008

  • Meeting Medvedev Halfway
    11/25/2008

  • Liquidating the Empire
    10/14/2008

  • An Amicus Brief for Neville
    9/30/2008

  • And None Dare Call It Treason
    8/22/2008

  • Who Started Cold War II?
    8/19/2008

  • Blowback From Bear-Baiting
    8/15/2008

  • Obama's War?
    7/29/2008

  • Honorable Exit From Empire
    7/25/2008

  • A Phony Crisis
    and a Real One
    7/15/2008

  • No More Blank Checks for War
    7/11/2008

  • Who's Planning Our Next War?
    6/27/2008

  • Hitchens Demands an
    Eye for an Eye
    6/25/2008

  • Was the Holocaust Inevitable?
    6/20/2008

  • Is Bush Becoming Irrelevant?
    5/30/2008

  • Bush Plays the Hitler Card
    5/20/2008

  • Is It Jaw-Jaw or War-War?
    5/6/2008

  • Petraeus Points to War With Iran
    4/11/2008

  • Was WWII Really 'The Good War'?
    4/4/2008

  • Should We Fight for South Ossetia?
    4/1/2008

  • Does Balkanization Beckon Anew?
    2/19/2008

  • Blowback From Moscow
    11/30/2007

  • Is World War III on Hold?
    11/13/2007

  • Is a Vote for Rudy a Vote for War?
    11/9/2007

  • Who Restarted the Cold War?
    10/19/2007

  • Infantile Nation
    9/25/2007

  • Is Terrorism a Mortal Threat?
    9/21/2007

  • Stopping the Next War
    9/14/2007

  • Phase III of Bush's War
    9/1/2007

  • Has Bush Boxed Himself In?
    8/28/2007

  • Onward Into Waziristan!
    8/3/2007

  • Hillary's Late Hit
    7/27/2007

  • This Is How Empires End
    7/20/2007

  • Tonkin Gulf II and
    the Guns of August?
    7/17/2007

  • How Scooter Skated
    7/6/2007

  • The Retreat of the Old Bulls
    6/29/2007

  • The Martyr of Mosul
    6/22/2007

  • On the Escalator to War With Iran
    6/15/2007

  • Who Lost Russia?
    6/5/2007

  • Does 'The Decider'
    Decide on War?
    5/30/2007

  • Why Congress Caved to Bush
    5/25/2007

  • But Who Was Right Rudy or Ron?
    5/18/2007

  • Dying for...Estonia?
    5/4/2007

  • Wolfie's Piggy Bank
    4/17/2007

  • What a Lack of Courage Cost
    4/10/2007

  • Magnanimous Mahmoud
    4/7/2007

  • Interventions Without End?
    3/27/2007

  • Pelosi's Capitulation
    3/20/2007

  • Does Putin Not Have a Point?
    2/13/2007

  • Is Bombing Iran Bush's Call?
    2/9/2007

  • Hysteria at Herzliya
    1/31/2007

  • The Ideologue
    1/25/2007

  • The X Factor in 2008 Iran
    1/23/2007

  • See the Superpower Run
    1/19/2007

  • Mr. Bush, Meet Walter Jones
    1/16/2007

  • Patrick J. Buchanan was twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the Reform Party’s candidate in 2000. He is also a founder and editor of the new magazine, The American Conservative. Now a commentator and columnist, he served three presidents in the White House, was a founding panelist of three national television shows, and is the author of seven books.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2014 Antiwar.com