The top US General in Iraq, David Petraeus, has told the Senate Armed Service Committee that the troop surge has produced significant but uneven progress in Iraq. He also asked the committe, which included Senator Clinton, not to make rash decisions and reject any call for a timetable for withdrawing troops from the country. I quite agree with General Petraeus. Withdrawl of coalition forces, regardless of the consequences, would constitute a failure of political and moral leadership and fly in the face of every democratic principle or ideology we claim to hold. The situation is dire, of this there is little doubt, however I believe wholeheartedly that it remains retrievable. Should we cut and run, Iraq would become a bastion of terror which would inevitably come back to haunt us in the future, at which point the situation would have become unretrievable.
Around the world failings of the Iraq war are being used as a weapon for all oppositions to discredit any government that supported it. The new Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, who incidently is a republican (shudder), arguably won the Australian election in part due to his call for a withdrawl of Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather than offer constructive solutions they offer empty rhetoric appealing to the lowest common denominator. I sincerely hope the Conserative party does not follow suit in the next election. This is playing politics with peoples live for the sake of winning an election. If that is what we have to do to win an election… I’d rather lose. Sadly most governments, oppositions and their wider population for that matter are fickle. They claim to want equality, they want to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves but as soon as things get a little bit tough, or very tough in the case of Iraq, they want a quick fix regardless of the consequences.
Whether or not the Conseratives were the government that sent our troops to war is irrelevant. Our backing of the government in 2003 should not be forgotten and we should honour the call we took at the time based on the best, now discredited, information made available to us. The mistake has been made and I believe we shouldn’t follow that mistake with another even greater one…. running away. We have a duty to re-build the society that we unintentionally obliterated. If we abandon Iraq then it will descend in to failed state status. While we may be able to sweep it under the carpet for a time, the repercussions of the collapse of Iraq will be felt from Baghdad to Birmingham and beyond.
We, however unintentionally, condemed Iraq to this fate by removing a dictatoral regime which inevitably produced a power vaccum that has proceeded to destroy Iraqi society. 30 years of supressed emotions and political ambitions was always going to erupt in to chaos. However I detest the cowardly attitudes that seem to be increasing on a daily basis, that we should simply cut our losses and run, the attitude of ‘let them sort themselves out’ seems to be prevailing.
It almost feels as if these people have got ‘bored’ of the situation in Iraq. Well to these people I say; you are lucky enough to have the privellage to be bored of the situation in Iraq, you live thousands of miles away from it and in a society which compared to Iraq has had it easy over the past 30 years (I don’t recall Thatcher putting anyone in acid baths :P). The carnage and chaos we see on our TV screens is life for the people of Iraq. The terror we witnessed in London on 7/7 is a daily reality for scores of Iraqi people and their deaths are reported here in Britain like sports scores on the evening news, rather than the abhorrent acts of terror they are.
Anti-War campaigners may be right when they say we should have never invaded Iraq. However this is all very well in hind-sight and we have to try to rectify the situation we have created. Having said this the duty to rebuild Iraq is not solely British or American. The European Union, the UN and the wider world need to step up to the plate and recognise that whilst they may have had legitimate reservations about the legality and neccessity for war in Iraq, the mistake has been made and we need help to rectify it. Iraq is failing in part because of the unwillingness, cowardice and lack of assistance from other nations.
A stable Iraq is of benefit to the region and the world certainly not just Britain and America. Its collapse however would ‘unleash the gates of hell’ as it would become a hot bed for insurgents and terrorists. Extremism in part spawns from inequality, desperation and poverty and it is in these conditions that parasites like Bin Laden prosper. If we ignore the threat in the naieve hope it will go away we will have to face the fight currently raging on the streets of Baghdad, on our streets.
The only relevant question that remain is, can we still win, meaning can we leave behind a functioning, self sustaining, Western-friendly constitutional government? I believe we can and we are.The insurgency is strong, but it has failed to topple the Iraqi government. It can create bombs, civil unrest and carnage but little else. Should we leave the Iraqi government would not last long and would be replaced by characters on a par, or worse, than the dictator we set out to replace in 2003.
Ignorance is bliss but the reprocussions of a ‘rushed withdrawl’ is not.