Disengagement in Iraq
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  • Kenny

    “Far more Iraqi students should be studying in the US. More Iraqi faculty should be teaching or engaging in research here. If security conditions didn’t permit contact in the country, we should have brought more Iraqis out to mix with international civil society.”

    No, no, no.

  • stephen b

    I was a USAF officer with the 82nd ABN when we went into Iraq in ’03. After the apparent rapid military success in those opening weeks, it was clear that a substantial shift needed to take place requiring civil engagement. Our military at that time was not structured for that task. Very few other elements of USG were equipped for “nation building” either and more to the point, had no intention of getting into that business. I remember my boss at the time saying to me that it was now time for the khaki wearing polo shirt crowd to take over. To the extent that didn’t happen led to many of the problems that came later. Remember those State department employees who complained about taking posts in Iraq? The military, on the other hand, tried to re-shape itself into something that could continue to handle combat operations as well as help build a more civil society.

  • Matthew Brotchie

    Its funny, on the conservative side I’m hearing alot of “Iraq should pay us back for giving them their freedom” rhetoric from both FOX NEWS and several GOP candidates. I find that notion both noxious and with no conception of reality.

  • Toni

    Don’t be surprised if the next 9/11 is caused by Muslim terrorists operating out of some Iraqi backwater.

    That lesson comes to us from the fabulous book Charlie Wilson’s War, by 60 Minutes producer George Crile. In the 1980s, Reagan and the Democratic Congress were at furious, very publicized odds over funding anti-Communist fighters in El Salvador and Nicaragua. Meanwhile, the very liberal Congressman Charlie Wilson (D-TX) quietly had the CIA direct a multi-billion-dollar war against the Soviet army then occupying Afghanistan.

    It was “the largest covert operation in CIA history,” and it succeeded magnificently. The last Soviet soldiers left Afghanistan in 1989, a decade after they’d invaded.

    Afterwards, Charlie Wilson tried very hard to get Congress to publicly fund a billion-dollar, long-lasting rebuilding program. No dice. The Afghans sensibly concluded that Allah had won the war for them, and Muslims worldwide that Allah could win them a war against the US. Hence the Taliban and al Qaeda and 9/11 — and how many billions spent over the last decade on our own Afghan War?

    Yes, we should have an intensive, ongoing presence in Iraq to bolster its American-sponsored democracy in a region with precious few of them. President Obama should appreciate the Afghan lesson and make the case to the American people that, having torn the country apart, we owe it to the Iraqis to stay — and that staying would greatly behoove Americans’ national security.

    Instead, he finds it expedient to forget history. The rest of us are left to pray we’re not doomed to repeat it.

  • Mark B

    “This would have helped them think through the questions they faced in reconstructing their society, but in no way would it have imposed an American agenda on them.”

    This strikes me as very naive. This type of radical change does not happen without thorough destruction of the old order, which in Iraq was very strong having survived in the most poisonous environment for a long, long time.

  • Luke Lea

    “Nobody is to blame for this alone.”

    Bush was to blame.

  • peter38a

    The question isn’t staying or leaving. The question is what would be a viable plan for putting these countries or any future countries on the road to a liberal society? And I’m not accepting anything like we should do more arm linking and singing around the camp fire. May I see something that has even a better than 50% chance of success?

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