Politics & Policy

Iraq 101

A wartime timesaver.

Since the “surge” became official, listening to the telly, reading letters to the editor, and trolling blogs has been excruciating.

The Iraq war is a subject sure to stoke emotions, quickly trumping run-of-the-mill politics and religion as taboo dinner conversation that necessitates removing steak knives from the table first. But do the arguments against the war have to be the same regurgitated drivel, statements easily countered because they make such little sense?

Shouldn’t there be some sort of “Iraq for Dummies” guide that easily shoots down the nonsensical claims pushed by the antiwar left and swallowed by the gullible middle?

Now there is! If you’re tired of wasting your breath countering these familiar refrains over and over, just hand the vociferous war opponent a copy of my rant. Better yet, just paper the windshields of hybrid cars with this run-through at your next local Code Pink rally.

“Our safety does not depend on Iraq.” In what isolationist pipe dream? Globalization has not just been about trade and technology; it’s about ideological front lines that know no borders. Look what happened when Israel ceded Gaza: Instead of being heralded by Palestinians as a selfless peace offering, it was lauded across the globe as a victory for terrorists and turned into an attack base against Israel.

“We should have never gone to Iraq in the first place.” Using this as a pullout reason is like debating the best course of action during open-heart surgery, then walking out of the operating room without making sure the heart is beating and stitching the patient up.

“We should include Iran and Syria.” And we need that like a hole in the head. There is a huge difference between passive neighbor and active instigator. Recently released Pentagon figures state that 198 Coalition soldiers have been killed and more than 600 wounded by elaborate Iranian-manufactured explosive devices smuggled in via the Tigris River and southern marshland. Bashar Assad might be pushed around a bit, but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will never be a friend, ally, or even cordial with the United States, lest his Islamic street cred be tarnished. Ahmadinejad didn’t visit Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and Rafael Correa over the weekend to play poker, but to cement alliances against the United States. And if we’re caught sleeping on Iran we’re in big trouble.

“We can’t force them to be a democratic country.” We didn’t exactly force thousands of Iraqis to walk miles down dirt roads and wait for hours for the chance to cast a ballot. Sheesh, voter turnout for December 2005 Iraqi elections was about 70 percent, whereas midterm elections in the U.S. draw on average about 40 percent. They could teach us how to cherish the right to vote.

“Polls say we should pull out.” And military policy should be based on polls? Should it be left to officials who have all of the pertinent information and intelligence on the situation at hand, as well as years of experience in the field, or to someone called during dinnertime by Gallup and posed a five-second opinion question over the mashed potatoes? Forty-three percent of Democrats responding in a Zogby poll last May said Iran posed no threat to the U.S., so that goes to show how much poll respondents know. A 2005 Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life poll found 66 percent saying they knew “not very much” or “nothing at all” about Islam. Heaven help us if a poll dictates policy.

“The American voters don’t want to be in Iraq.” Funny, because they reelected George W. Bush, who initiated the Iraq invasion and ran on a platform of staying the course, over John Kerry, the senator who ran on a flip-flop against the war.

“The American public is war-weary.” So you just surrender? It’s a long, hard slog against militant Islam, but people seem to still, after all we know, expect a tidy battle wrapped up with a white flag and a treaty. And we’re a long way from topping the Hundred Years War (now that’s cause for war-weariness), so let’s all buck up and get some cojones. War is hell, but sometimes absolutely necessary.

“Bush just doesn’t want to be embarrassed by losing.” If he was so concerned about acting with the intent of sparing his feelings, he would have tried to follow poll sentiment and reverse his low numbers a long time ago.

“An automatic pullout would save lives.” It may spare some U.S. soldiers until the emboldened Islamic radicals, backed by the same populace that cheered when the Twin Towers were brought down, proceed with strikes against our foreign installations and here at home. It would not save Iraqi lives. And as we hawks believe that an innocent Iraqi life is as important as an American life, we also know that our presence keeps the country from descending into full-scale war and bloodshed the likes of which we’ve never seen.

“The war is all about Big Oil profiting.” Oh no, it’s the “H” word — Halliburton! The left loves the subject of oil more than J. R. Ewing. It’s going on four years now and we haven’t swiped Iraq’s oil yet; in fact, Bush’s proposal last week advanced profit-sharing legislation to spread the wealth among Iraqis. Funny, we didn’t take the oil in the first Gulf War in 1991, either.

“We’re not even wanted there.” Sure, Muqtada al-Sadr doesn’t want us there. The Sunnis who love Saddam (but failed to riot en masse after his hanging as predicted) don’t want us there. But the recent commercial from Kurds thanking America for democracy, produced by the Kurdistan Development Corporation, doesn’t star Kurds being told to praise the U.S. at gunpoint. They actually feel that way. Some Iraqi Kurds have named their kids after President Bush in the wake of Saddam Hussein’s toppling. It’s not a popularity coup, but not a seething pit of venom, either.

“It’s their civil war and we shouldn’t interfere.” It’s their civil war — being fueled and supplied by the same outside Islamist entities that would like to destroy the West as well. Not quite the Union vs. the Confederacy.

“How come we aren’t trying to find bin Laden?” How do you know that we’re not? Despite public opinion to the contrary, the U.S. government is capable of walking and chewing gum at the same time. And would those who ask this question support a full-scale U.S. assault on the heavily fortified tribal regions of Waziristan (Osama’s likely hiding spot), which would then inflame Pakistanis enough to give the Islamist coalition Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal the weight to overthrow fairly pro-U.S. Gen. Pervez Musharraf?

It’s also not all about Bin Laden. Al Qaeda No. 2 Ayman al-Zawahri has been issuing the calls to arms lately, giving direction to jihadists around the globe including Iraq and Somalia and reportedly dispatching al Qaeda to the U.N. buffer zone in Lebanon and neighboring Syria. While he should face the music for his crimes, Osama is not some fly-by-night cult leader whose frenzied sect will die with him.

“Why are we spending money to rebuild Iraq when we could build schools here?” Ever heard of the Marshall Plan?

“The war has turned European sentiment against the U.S.” Going back to what kids learn in elementary school, since when is doing the popular thing more important than doing the right thing? Not to mention, European nations that have allowed unchecked immigration and the establishment of unassimilated Muslim communities have been seeing their appeasing policies backfire with the rise in homegrown fundamentalist activities and attacks.

“The toll has been too high.” The U.S. death toll has passed 3,000 after nearly four years. In the three-year Korean War, more than 36,000 Americans were killed. While every loss is tragic and mourned, the toll and sacrifice needs to be seen in proper perspective. In the movie Munich, the lead character hunting Black September members has flashbacks throughout taking the viewer through the grisly details of the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics. Like Spielberg’s film, we need to constantly remind ourselves of what Islamic terrorists are capable of and remember the day they woke up most of America.

“We should let the United Nations handle it.” Because they do so well everywhere else?

“Would you send your child off to fight in Bush’s war?” This is the U.S., not Uganda, so you’d be hard-pressed to find a child soldier here. Young though they often may be, they are still adults who made a conscious decision to join the military and serve when needed, where needed, and should be respected for their choice. This argument usually branches into why Bush doesn’t “send” his daughters off to war, when obviously they are adults who are free to make their own choices as well — he can’t send them to their rooms without dinner for not flying off to Baghdad.

“Isn’t Kim Jong Il a bigger threat than Saddam was? Why haven’t we taken him out?” And you know who would be complaining if we did? Everybody who complained about the U.S. going into Iraq!

— Bridget Johnson is a columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She blogs at GOP Vixen.


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