Friday, February 15, 2008

Iraq: No time to cut & run

The allies are beginning to turn the tide in Iraq – Al Qaeda is being defeated - and the time to accelerate the withdrawal of allied troops has not come. Writing of the US commitment The Wall Street Journal notes:

The Army and Marines in Iraq have adapted from their earlier troubles to a counterinsurgency strategy that is working. General Petraeus should be given as long as he needs.

What is certain is that next January U.S. forces will still be deployed in Iraq in large numbers. Securing the conditions by which they can drive out al Qaeda and tame the Shiite militias, deter Syria and Iran, and guarantee Iraq's integrity and freedom would be a worthy legacy for this Administration, and a useful inheritance for the next.
The cut-and-run policy of the Australian Labor Party in Iraq – combat troops will be withdrawn by mid-2008 – damages the long-term prospects of an allied policy to defeat terrorism in Iraq and involves turning our back on the welfare of the Iraqi people. The numerical impact of the withdrawal is small but the propaganda impact is significant.

Of course the ALP bears partial responsibility for any terrorist carnage in Iraq that is consequent of an excessively hasty withdrawal.

Australia cannot easily influence the foolish policies of Obama and Clinton in the US to withdraw troops, just as the surge is beginning to work, but the Australian promise to withdraw troops by mid-2008 is one Kevin Rudd should not keep.


derrida derider said...

Once again, Harry, you've bought offical evasions. Yes, AQ has been defeated in Anbar province by the locals (not the Yanks). But that was achieved simply by removing US troops from Anbar and leaving it to the locals - an early withdrawal from all Iraq would have greatly hastened it.

The real evasion here is that little of the insurgency was or is AQ - it's also overwhelmingly the work of those same locals, who are clearly now waiting for the surge to end (though they still killed another 7 GIs this week). The biggest factor here is the truce between the Sadrists and the Sunni militias. They are quite likely to ally against the foreign invaders in the upcoming northern summer, when the surge has to end for purely logistic reasons.

conrad said...

If you (or your relatives) want to go and fight/die there, and pay for it with your own money, then good luck, but I see no reason why everyone else should.

Also, given the huge cost (and oppurtunity cost) of Iraq, it seems extremely unlikely that anyone is going to want to stay there in a recession (lets face it, most people don't want to stay there now). Thus since no-one is going to go the difference, and the outcome is going to be the same whether they pull out next year (or the year after), then it isn't logical to stay there anyway.

You could put your thoughts to more productive uses thinking about what strategy Austraila should have with respect to the refugees and other consequences.

hc said...

DD, I agree the alliance between local factions is improving stability although changed US military strategy does seem to be working. AQ's actions a partial source ofr this alliance.

Conrad, You could apply your argument to any conflict. No-one wants to die. It does not lead anywhere.

conrad said...

I agree HC. But being told by a bunch of politicians with rather unrealistic expectations (and evidentally no knowledge of history) to go and die in worthless places leads to consequences, which is generally worse than nothing. Its just too easy to send other people to do your own dirty work in situations like this, and Australian politicians are far far too enthusiastic. We need to get rid of the pro-war balance, like most countries on Earth (excluding the US and the UK). Most countries in Europe, for example, have more to gain than Australia (if you believe the hyperbole about the benefits), but I hardly see them rushing to commit.

Anonymous said...

As DD has said, the problem with the current surge strategy is that it will eventually have to end. At which point the insurgency will most likely recommence.

You say "...what is certain is that next January U.S. forces will still be deployed in Iraq in large numbers." The only condition by which the US could say that they have been successful is if they can withdraw and leave a stable government in Iraq. That is not going to have happened by next January, so I cannot see how the current Administration can leave any worthy legacy whatsoever.

How long are you prepared to give the US before admitting the whole strategy has been an abject failure - one year, two years, ten years .....?

I thought the original reason for the invasion was because the US thought that Iraq had WMDs (which it turned out they didn't have). Later it seemed to morph into getting rid of Hussein (which was done). I never heard that terrorsim was the reason for the intervention in Iraq - if it was, the US should have also invaded Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The ALP bears no responsibility for choosing to withdraw ahead of the US. They were opposed to the intervention (admittedly in a very weak-kneed fashion) in the first place.

Mark U