12 February 2008

A question for the senators seeking the Democratic nomination for president

A question for the "withdrawal from Iraq Left", including Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton:

What do you want Iraq to look like in 25 years?

Consider this history. In 1945, we invaded Germany. We still have forces stationed there. In 1945, we occupied Japan, and we still have some forces stationed there. In 1950, we came to the rescue of the people of South Korea. We still have some forces in Korea. In 1993, we sent troops into Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1994 into Macedonia and in 1999, we sent troops to Kosovo. We still have troops in the Balkans. In 1991 we sent troops to liberate Kuwait. Guess what.

On the other hand, in 1955 we started sending advisers to South Vietnam. We increased that to a full-fledged deployment in 1964. We withdrew our forces in 1973, and, tragically, withdrew our support of our allies in late 1974 and early 1975.

In 1958, we sent troops to Lebanon and quickly withdrew them. In 1965, we sent troops to the Dominican Republic, and pulled them out as soon as we thought our interests were safe. In 1970, we invaded Cambodia and withdrew in 1973. In 1982, we were back in Lebanon, but only for a short while.

In 1992, we sent troops to Somalia and pulled them out a year later after the tragic loss of a large patrol. In 1993, we sent troops into Haiti and pulled them out two years later.

While there are other deployments since World War II, these are, I believe, the largest and most substantial deployments the United States military has made in combat situations since 1945.

Here is the rub: South Vietnam fell and Vietnam is today one of the more repressive communist regimes remaining; Lebanon remains unstable; the Dominican Republic is an economic backwater; Cambodia continues to struggle against Khmer Rouge rebels and internal discord, especially after the deaths of over a million people under Pol Pots regime after our withdrawal. Somalia continues to be a failed state; and Haiti remains a humanitarian disaster.

On the other hand, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, and the Balkans are all stable, and democracy has taken root or is a growing movement.

So, Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton, I have a question for you. Since Iraq sits at the hub of an area that has been unstable for 1500 years, and since much of the world’s energy, and therefore food, is dependent on what happens in that area of the world, I ask you this: what do you want Iraq to look like in 25 years, Somalia and Haiti, or Germany and South Korea ?

Assuming that we can withdraw our troops in the sort of precipitous manner we have demonstrated with our cut- and- run attitude in so many places at the cost of so many lives will doom us to disaster in Iraq. I believe that the presence of American troops in places like Germany, Japan, Korea, Kuwait and the Balkans, among others, is a stabilizing force that enhances democracy, stability, and freedom. This is in the interest of the Iraqi people, and in the national interest of the United States.

Freedom isn't free. So why do you assume that we can have it without asking Americans to pay any price at all?

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