Why the US Cannot, and Will Not, Leave Iraq Any Time Soon
There is decreasing support for the war in Iraq, and there are increasing calls to bring the troops home. President Bush has also begun hinting toward the idea of bringing troops home “if things go well” in Iraq. The recent elections in Iraq have been hailed by president Bush as a flowering of democracy and “freedom” in the Middle East, but what is really going on here?
The group that came out on top in the recent Iraqi elections is that of the Shiite Muslims who support Islamic theocracy in Iraq. This is the group of people who are most closely aligned with Iran.
Earlier this year Iranian democracy brought Shiite fundamentalist Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to presidential power.
Now lets get a few things straight.
The press and the President keep telling us that the “insurgency” is fueled by Muslim extremists and the Sunni minority of Iraq. Here is the thing though, the Muslim extremists are in the majority in Iraq and the Sunnis are much more secular than the Shiites. In practice the Sunnis are the moderates and the Shiites are the extremists, and the Shiites are the ones gaining political power in the government. Yes the Sunnis ruled with somewhat of an iron fist during Saddam’s reign, but much of that was in order to prevent the more radical Islamist Shiites from dominating the country with religious fundamentalism. Iraq was one of the few places in the Middle East where women could go to the university, drive cars, own property, etc.
What exactly happened when America invaded the Middle East?
Well, despite the fact that there was a movement in Iran to open up towards the West and become a more liberal society, when America invaded Iraq and Afghanistan this pushed the Iranians to adopt a much more conservative, anti-American, anti-Western, nationalist stance. With America invading the countries next door the Iranian people felt threatened and when election time came the country shifted far to the Right and elected the fundamentalist radical Ahmadinejad.
In Iraq we deposed one of the most secular and socially moderate regimes in the Middle East to bring religious fundamentalists (who are ideologically sympathetic to Iran) into power.
Now, both Iraq and Iran have Shiites in power. Meanwhile Iran is still perusing nuclear capabilities and their leader is shouting ridiculous threats about Israel. Democracy in Afghanistan has yielded a parliament that is thought to be about 60% warlords, many of which are former or current members of the Taliban. Not only that but the Taliban insurgency is increasing in Afghanistan as well.
Anyone who thinks that America can bring the troops home from this situation is kidding themselves to say the least. There is no way that American troops can “come home” from the Middle East any time soon. In fact even a minor draw down in troops seems unlikely.
The Bush administration is talking about brining troops home because that is what people want to hear, and, once again, people are allowing themselves to be led by what they want to here. Americans are now believing that it’s actually possible to extricate ourselves from the mess in the Middle East. It’s not. We are going to have relatively high levels of troops in the Middle East for years and years to come. Ten years from now we are still going to have over 100,000 troops engaged in military operations in the Middle East. Now that we have gone in, it’s quicksand, there is no way out.