I have absolutely no idea of what the U.S. military should do with regard to Iraq.
Here are our three basic options:
- If we pull out abruptly, the country will utterly collapse. We’d be abdicating our responsibility to fix what we’ve so badly broken. But no more of our soldiers would die.
- If we pull out gradually, the country will slowly collapse. I fail to see how this is better. More soldiers would die than if we pull out abruptly, because a) we’d be there longer and b) inevitably there’d be forces not equipped to protect themselves while still carrying out their mission.
- If we remain in place until the country achieves some sort of normalcy, we may be an occupying force for decades to come and, consequently, the country may not ever achieve normalcy because of our presence. Many, many American soldiers die.
I don’t know which of these scenarios results in the smallest numbers of deaths of Iraqis. I don’t know which one prevents the country from entirely falling apart. I don’t know which one avoids a civil war which, as bad as things are now, I’m in no way convinced that they’re experiencing now; it’s more like genocide.
My level of familiarity with Bush’s war in Iraq is rather higher than the average American, I expect. My education in the realm of international relations theory is decent, and perhaps gives me more insight than the average joe about what we’ve gotten ourselves into. But I am not a military strategist and, as such, I feel in no way equipped to advocate for any particular method of releasing this tiger’s tail from our grasp.
Going into Iraq was a mistake. That was obvious at the time. Dick Cheney knew it in 1994 as surely as he must have known it in 2003. But we’re there now, and one way or another, we’ve got to figure out what to do next. I have no idea what that is.