The Straightaway

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The Cost of Victory

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While reading The Wall Street Journal Online Edition today, I was struck by the end of an opinion piece about Obama and his potential Iraq War policy:

Mr. Obama has inherited a victory in Iraq that he can’t afford to squander.

For many, calling the Iraq War a “victory” is ludicrous. After all, such an expensive project (in both lives and resources) that has produced only a mediocre suppression of violence can be nothing but a failure. Right?

Perhaps not. Cost aside, the war in Iraq has produced a resource-rich new democracy that has the potential to become the Unites States’ most valuable Middle Eastern Arab ally. If the upcoming regional elections go well, the continuing normalization of affairs in the country could allow Iraq to blossom into some more than it could have ever under Sadaam Hussein.

Understandably, the possibility of real success in Iraq is hard to swallow for the majority of Americans, who have come to hate the war and the man most associated to it – the outgoing President George W. Bush. They are angry about the sacrifices Americans have had to make to carry out Bush’s War, and they resent the damage the war has done to America’s international credibility. The American public seems to desire a hasty withdrawal out of Iraq.

This anger should not push the Obama administration to spoil what can still be done in Iraq. With a tempered withdrawal, U.S. forces can withdraw safely from Iraq within the next few years. A hasty withdrawal will do nothing but make certain that billions of dollars and thousands of American lives were spent in vain.

Anger cannot blind America this time. The ills of the past 6 years of the war should not be taken into account when considering the course of action that should be taken. The politicians of the Democratic majority will attempt to make good on their campaign promises and withdraw from Iraq with haste and without thought – they must be stopped. This important foreign policy decision should be made by level heads without considering their re-election bids in 2010 and 2012.

The strongest rebuke of the Slow Withdrawal argument is the high price of the war (estimated at $8-$12 billion per month, or roughly $120 billion per year). To refute that argument, one merely has to point a finger at the sloppily-executed $700 billion bailout passed before the end of President Bush’s term and the $300+ billion stimulus package that looks to pass through the Congress and Senate, both of which are still enthralled by the inspiring new President. Instead of giving the government $700 billion more to allocate poorly, why not just cut taxes to alleviate the burden on the average American and continue to spend for the next couple of years on Iraq? This alternative will save the United States money while boosting both its domestic and foreign profile.

Let the soldiers finish their job without an arbitrary deadline hanging over their head. The U.S. does not plan to (and does not want to) stay in Iraq for 100 years, as oft quoted; the Slow Withdrawal plan should be completed by the next presidential election (how convenient). The wrongs America has done to the Iraqi people will be multiplied if after all this struggle, Iraq remains a chaotic autocracy. America owes Iraq peace. American needs to finish its job first, then exit with grace and leave Iraq for its citizens to build into whatever it is destined to become.

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Written by acs2008

January 27, 2009 at 3:02 pm