The argument for and against troops staying in Iraq

Nicholas Kristof of the nytimes argues,

If U.S. troops leave Iraq too soon, the country will simply fall apart. The Kurdish areas in the north may muddle along, unless Turkey intervenes to protect the Turkman minority or to block the emergence of a Kurdish state. The Shiite areas in the south might establish an Iranian-backed theocratic statelet that would establish order. But the middle of the country would erupt in bloody civil war and turn into something like Somalia.
I also have to concede that those calling for withdrawal may in the end be proven right: perhaps we'll stick it out in Iraq and still be forced to retreat even after squandering the lives of 1,000 more Americans. Those of us who believe in remaining in Iraq must answer the question that John Kerry asked about Vietnam: "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

The best answer to that question, I think, is that our mistaken invasion has left millions of Iraqis desperately vulnerable, and it would be inhumane to abandon them now. If we stay in Iraq, there is still some hope that Iraqis will come to enjoy security and better lives, but if we pull out we will be condemning Iraqis to anarchy, terrorism and starvation, costing the lives of hundreds of thousands of children over the next decade.

Those hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, whose lives we placed at risk by invading their country, are the reasons we should remain in Iraq, until we can hand over security to a local force. Saving hundreds of thousands of lives is a worthy cause to risk American lives for, even to die for.

This is a fair enough estimate. I am wavering on the issue now exactly because it's very difficult for me to see any better option. The situation is all-around terrible. What are the solutions? It's hard to say right now which is the right path. But we musn't get caught in complacency. People need to act and create, support the Iraqi voice, and not ignore it. Ask Iraqis what they want. Don't leave them out of the process. That was, and still is, the most dangerous thing. Alienating Iraqis of any race or religious sect. ...

But, yes, I think withdrawal is necessary for a stable Iraq. Yet, I see Kristof's point. I think that Iraqis need to be given assurances that there will not be a permanent American presence. Little steps need to made that might spark some good ideas. We need a streak of positivity combined with some inward criticism and outward accountability. There's too much chaos and too little accountability right now. It's difficult to focus and think properly about a situation when you've been avoiding reality for so long. But it needs to be confronted eventually. The sooner the better.

Saving the Iraqi Children by Dr. Nicholas Kristof


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