That's three pieces, though with differing perspectives, on why we shouldn't quit in Iraq. William Shawcross:
Armchair pundits in the West like to blame the crisis in Iraq on mistakes made by Washington, particularly by Donald Rumsfeld. There certainly have been mistakes, but whether the present situation would have been markedly different without them can never be known.Frederick W. Kagan, who thinks 'A rapid U.S. withdrawal would lead to catastrophe in Iraq':
Moreover, the mistakes were tactical, not moral: soldiers have not died plundering or colonising Iraq, they have died trying to help Iraqis make it better.
Bush, Tony Blair and John Howard are absolutely right to insist that we cannot abandon Iraq. We are there under a UN mandate (soon up for renewal), assisting the legitimate, elected Government. We should hand over to the Iraqis as they become more capable.
But a premature pullout would condemn Iraq and the region to unbelievable horror. And it would be a famous victory for our Islamist enemies, who declared war on the West long before we went into Iraq and liberated 23 million Muslims.
Both honor and our vital national interest require establishing conditions in Iraq that will allow the government to consolidate and maintain civil peace and good governance. It doesn't matter how many "trained and ready" Iraqi soldiers there are, nor how many provinces are nominally under Iraqi control. If America withdraws its forces before setting the conditions for the success of the Iraqi government, we will have failed in our mission and been defeated in the eyes of our enemies. We will have dishonored ourselves.And a sergeant in the US Army:
If we continue on as is in Iraq, we will leave here (sooner or later) with a fractured state, a Rwanda-waiting-to-happen. "Stay the course" and refusing to admit that we're screwing things up is already killing a lot of people needlessly. Following through with such inane nonstrategy is going to be the death knell for hundreds of thousands of Sunnis.(Thanks: JN / MK.)
We need to backtrack. We need to publicly admit we're backtracking. This is the opening battle of the ideological struggle of the 21st century. We cannot afford to lose it because of political inconveniences. Reassert direct administration, put 400,000 to 500,000 American troops on the ground, disband most of the current Iraqi police and retrain and reindoctrinate the Iraqi army until it becomes a military that's fighting for a nation, not simply some sect or faction. Reassure the Iraqi people that we're going to provide them security and then follow through. Disarm the nation: Sunnis, Shias, militia groups, everyone. Issue national ID cards to everyone and control the movement of the population.
If these three things are done, you can actually start the Iraqi economy again. Once people have a sense of security, they'll be able to leave their houses to go to work. Tell your American commanders that it's OK to pass up bad news - because part of the problem is that these issues are not reaching above the battalion or brigade level due to the can-do, make-it-happen culture indoctrinated into our U.S. officers. While the attitude is admirable, it also creates barriers to recognizing and dealing with on-the-ground realities.