Jewish World Review May 3, 2013/ 23 Iyar, 5773
There goes Iraq --- again, or: Depart in haste, repent at leisure
By Paul Greenberg
This week's news from
Gen. Petraeus would later come a-cropper about a matter quite outside the military realm but all too common among the male and weaker sex. But he will forever deserve the respect of his fellow soldiers, and his fellow Americans, for turning imminent defeat into remarkably quick victory in
This general not only wrote the book when it comes to counterinsurgency, or at least compiled and edited it, but put its ideas into practice when finally given the chance. By a president who could acknowledge that American strategy in
But it did. That new strategy was the Surge, and the president was
. . .
Whatever our president's criticisms of his predecessor, imitation remains the sincerest form of praise. By now
This current commander-in-chief has by now acquired his own loud critics, left and right, by prizing practical results more than ideological fantasies. See the list of terrorists who have come afoul of those ever-watchful drones during his tenure. Happily, Mr. Obama has not hesitated to approve their use, though no one denies they can claim innocent victims, as war always does.
But such successes have been fleeting in
It's an all too familiar pattern in American history: Win every war, lose every peace. Those who still follow events in
But haven't we already spent a decade fighting there? Not to mention all the lives and treasure that war has cost. Why not leave at last?
It's a tempting prospect, but the one thing worse than fighting there, or at least backing up our Iraqi allies who still are, would be to abandon them at a crucial time. As our premature withdrawal from that country has come all too close to doing.
Why stay even longer? For the same reason American troops remain in Korea more than half a century after the war there ended. For the same reason American peacekeepers patrol around the globe from
Since its hasty and artificial conception after the First World Calamity to meet the needs of the British Empire (for oil) and its Arab clients,
The one part of this mix that works, Iraqi Kurdistan, is constantly at odds (over oil, mainly) with the central government, such as it is. Caught between Arabs on one side and Persians (now Iranians) on the other,
The always relevant Tocqueville said it, as he said so many far-seeing things: However unwelcome to democratic societies war may be, it is "nevertheless an occurrence to which all nations are subject, democratic nations as well as others. Whatever taste they may have for peace, they must hold themselves in readiness to repel aggression...." Much as all of us might prefer it otherwise.
Better to accept a harsh reality and respond wisely to it than go chasing after some dream world that has never been and cannot be. The isolationist dream is a persistent theme of our history; so is the need to see through it.
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