By Fr. George Welzbacher
November 20, 2011
Betrayal is the word that comes most handily to mind. The betrayal of those Americans, Iraqis and members of NATO forces who sacrificed their lives for a free, democratic, and pro-Western Iraq. The betrayal of those who will be crippled or paralyzed for the rest of their lives from wounds sustained in service to that cause. The betrayal of a Republic that asked our military personnel, at risk of life and limb, to serve that cause and in service to that cause expended as much as a trillion dollars in national treasure. The betrayal of Iraq, because with victory already WON, all that was needed to secure this nascent democracy from its enemies, namely the very same thing that Germany, Japan and South Korea needed after our victory in those theaters of war (and still need today), to wit the presence of American armed forces IN NUMBERS SUFFICIENT TO COUNTERACT emerging threats, will be denied to Iraq. With withdrawal by the end of this year of ALL American forces from Iraq, except for a pathetic handful assigned to guard our embassy and consulates, a massive power vacuum will be created in Iraq, a vacuum into which our sworn enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is already intruding, with an eye to setting up an anti-American coalition stretching from Pakistan and Afghanistan through Iraq, Syria and Lebanon all the way to the Mediterranean Sea.
That at least is one assessment of America's abandonment of Iraq to the aggressive appetites of its next-door neighbor, Iran. This is the assessment voiced by many, and most notably by one of our nation's most perceptive public commentators, Charles Krauthammer. It is an assessment that should prompt patriotic Americans to get down on their knees to pray for our own Republic, threatened on many fronts, within and without, including accelerating dangers from the Middle East.
In the on-going debate about the wisdom or folly of this soon-to-be-implemented evacuation of American military power from a crucially important crossroads of the Middle East, here is Charles Krauthammer's comment.
* * * * *Who Lost Iraq?
National Review On-Line, November 3, 2011
Barack Obama was a principled opponent of the Iraq War from its beginning. But when he became president in January 2009, he was handed a war that was WON. The surge had SUCCEEDED. Al-Qaeda in Iraq had been ROUTED, driven to humiliating defeat by an Anbar Awakening of Sunnis fighting side-by-side with the infidel Americans. Even more remarkably, the SHIITE MILITIAS had been TAKEN DOWN, with American backing, by the forces of Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. They crushed the [viciously anti-American] Sadr militias from Basra [in the far south] to Sadr City [the slums of Baghdad.].
Al-Qaeda decimated. A Shiite prime minister taking a decisively nationalist line. Iraqi Sunnis ready to integrate into a new national government. U.S, casualties at their lowest ebb in the entire war. Elections approaching. Obama was left with but a SINGLE TASK: Negotiate a new status-of-forces AGREEMENT (SOFA) to reinforce these gains and create a strategic partnership with the Arab world's only democracy....
Negotiations, such as they were, finally collapsed last month. There is NO agreement, NO partnership. As of Dec. 31, the American military presence in Iraq will be LIQUIDATED. And it's not as if that deadline sneaked up on Obama. He had three years to prepare for it. EVERYONE involved, Iraqi and American, knew that the 2008 SOFA calling for full U.S. withdrawal was MEANT to be RE-negotiated. And all major parties but one (the Sadr faction) had an interest in some RESIDUAL stabilizing U.S. force, LIKE the postwar deployments in Japan, Germany and Korea.
Three years, two abject failures. The first was the administration's inability, at the HEIGHT of American post-surge POWER, to BROKER a centrist nationalist COALITION governed by the MAJOR BLOCS- one predominantly Shiite (Maliki's), one predominantly Sunni (Ayad Allawi's), one Kurdish - that among them won a large majority (69 percent) of seats in the 2010 election.
Vice President Joe Biden [who favored a tripartite division of Iraq] was given the job.... The government ended up effectively being RUN by a narrow sectarian coalition where the BALANCE of power is held by the relatively small (12 percent) SADR faction.
The second failure was the SOFA itself. The MILITARY recommended nearly 20,000 troops, considerably FEWER than our 28,500 in Korea, 40,000 in Japan and 54,000 in Germany. The president REJECTED those proposals, choosing instead a level of 3,000 to 5,000 troops.
A deployment so risibly small would have to expend all of its energies simply protecting itself .... with no real capability to train the Iraqis, build their U.S.-equipped air force, mediate ethnic disputes (as we HAVE successfully done, for example, between local Arabs and Kurds), operate surveillance and special-ops bases, and establish the kind of close military-to-military relations that undergird our strongest alliances.
The Obama proposal was an unmistakable signal of unseriousness. It became clear that he simply wanted OUT, leaving any Iraqi foolish enough to maintain a PRO-American orientation now exposed to Iranian influence [that is] unopposed and potentially lethal. Message received. Just this past week, MASSOUD BARZANI, LEADER OF THE KURDS - for two decades the staunchest of U.S. ALLIES - VISITED TEHRAN to bend a knee to both President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah AN Khanienei.
It didn't HAVE to be this way. Our friends did not HAVE to be left out in the cold to SEEK IRANIAN protection. Three years and a WON war had given Obama the opportunity to establish a LASTING strategic alliance with the Arab world's second most important power.
He failed, though he hardly tried very hard. The EXCUSE is Iraqi refusal to grant legal immunity to U.S. forces. But the Bush administration encountered the SAME problem, AND OVERCAME IT. Obama had little desire to. Indeed, he portrays the evacuation as A SUCCESS, the fulfillment of a CAMPAIGN promise.
But surely the obligation to defend the security and the interests of the nation supersedes personal vindication. Obama opposed the war, but when he became commander in chief the terrible price had ALREADY BEEN PAID in blood and treasure. His obligation was to MAKE something of that sacrifice, to SECURE the strategic gains that sacrifice had ALREADY ACHIEVED.
He did not, failing at precisely what this administration so flatters itself for doing so well: diplomacy. After years of allegedly clumsy brutish force, Obama was to usher in an era of not hard power, not soft power, but SMART power.
Which turns out in Iraq to be ... NO power. Years from now we will be asking not: "WHO lost Iraq?" - that already is CLEAR- but "WHY?"
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