Cut-And-Run…perhaps our only option.

Hard and soft power are the two main ways to coerce international agreement. On the one hand, hard power is immediate, and forces one party into submission by the other’s (usually military) dominance. It was this kind of tactic that the Bush administration used when it declared that the mission was accomplished in Iraq. However, like most situations involving instant gratification, the desired result was short lived. The only way to perpetuate the domination, is to perpetuate the use of hard power. The same is true for soft power, only soft power is easier to live with. Negotiations, often beneficial to both parties, and the influx of trade and business often result in a long-term solution.

To succeed in our effort to stabilize Iraq using hard power, we would need a much more intensified effort with much higher troop levels. This means that we would need to build, and maintain, a dominant military force that would stay there for several decades. We are not prepared to do that and so, we remain in Iraq as the situation continues to get worse. Our military presence there is quickly becoming unwelcome by the populace, and we continue to loose support from other nations, resulting from our misuse of hard power. Bottom line, we are not prepared to do the job right. And so the situation in Iraq is now a conflagration that we are stuck with. For quite a while, I have been supporting the cut-and-run strategy. Feeling duped as an American (although I never thought there was WMDs, or any other viable threat present in Iraq), and spiteful toward the shit-kicking cowboy that is president Bush, I just wanted out of there. I really don’t want to see any more of our men and women die for the precarious reasons of this administration.

My position was mainly due to the various issues that need our attention. For instance, Europe is concentrating on slowing the affects of global warming, and as the primary contributors to the problem, I feel we should be focusing on the issue as well. Additionally, China may have finally produced a working model for Communist governance but is doing so at a great cost to the environment. Also, while I think their economic progress is great, I’m concerned about how their military capabilities might affect the United States. I feel that we need to concern ourselves more with the implications of what China may become, and how we can acclimate our own economy to an inevitable paradigm shift that will take place. Another constant worry is nuclear non-proliferation. Iran may be currently working with North Korea to obtain nuclear power. Although we are not sure what kind of nuclear power Iran wants to possess, we do know that they are in need of it for both types of applications.

When I think of all of the above, I am enraged when I think about the War On Terror debacle. What was our rush to use hard power? It was President Bush with his big red, white, and blue stick, saying “do what I say, or else”. Our use of soft power, on the other hand, has produced a better relationship with North Korea in a much shorter span of time. North Korea has decided to comply with US requests to disarm. So it would seem that despite the Bush administration’s position of no negotiations with terrorists (or those powers on the axis of evil list), just this latest use of diplomatic power has produced the desired result we were looking for with Iraq. So now US is finally talking with Iran, and I think that soft power will prevail again. So has Bush become a big boy, and learned his lesson at the expense of 407 billion dollars, 3,109 soldiers and perhaps 30,000 civilian lives? Maybe he has, but we still have to finish what we started in Iraq.

So here’s my problem. Although I hate the war in Iraq, I must concede that it may not end with us pulling out and allowing two warring factions to fend for themselves in a state of civil war. Ted Koppel made the point on Meet The Press this morning, that leaving Iraq now would spread a national civil war into a regional civil war. Given that the world relies on this region for so much of its oil, obviously we cannot let that happen. So we are stuck with this situation in Iraq, and no way out except to stabilize the country. So what now? Some say that we need to separate the country into three segments or provinces, allowing each faction representation in governing a religiously segregated state. Im not sure that people will give up their olive trees though. I don’t think they will take leaving their homes lightly. Additionally, the Kurds will have a beautiful region in the North while the other two factions will have a barren war zone to rebuild, which won’t be ignored. Finally, given that the source of conflict is religiously based, Im not very confident that they will be cooperative with each other in government. They each feel entitled to the land and its resources, and they will each fight for a larger piece of Oil revenues. We have to find a way to end sectarian violence. That is the only answer. But what if the root to the violence is American occupation? Would that mean that once the Americans withdraw, the violence would end? I can’t help but think that both the Suni and Sheite factions are saying “fuck you Americans, we don’t want your help. We know what you do with countries you “help” and we don’t want your corporate domination here”. It would explain why they blow up everything we try to build, and sabotage every program we initiate. Is it possible that all this could be over if we leave and stop feeling as though we need to be babysitters to their people? Could it be true that our Western philosophies are the primary source of this conflict? If you say no, your fooling yourself.

I have been a supporter of the Cut-And-Run policy, but I don’t pretend that it’s going to be that cut and dry. I support a withdraw to see what will happen, because everything we have tried to do up to this point has failed. I don’t know if it is right or if it too will fail. I just think that a pull-back will allow us to regroup, assess the situation a little better, and then we can decide what to do. I mean, let’s be honest, the resources there are important to industry in America. We cannot lose that region to civil war. If we do, the global demand for oil will rise and we will be in a world of hurt. If a reduction in American military presence causes the Iraqi people to calm down and rebuild their state, great. If it ends in more civil war though, at least we could rule the option of leaving out. At that point, if we do decide to go back in, at least we will know what to expect and maybe we can be better prepared. I think it is obvious to everyone that our current effort in Iraq is going nowhere. We need an option, and at this point, giving the Iraqi people a chance at self governance is the only option we have. -knockemdown

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