Thursday, February 8, 2007

War, Bad. Troop Increase, Good.

Here’s the quickest argument I can muster as for why Bush’s move to increase the current troop levels is the right thing to do. I am not talking about the original reasons for the War, but the Iraq War of today, February 8, 2007. Therefore, it takes as assumed the mistakes and general ineptitude of the War thus far. I invite comments from any reader, as no doubt many will disagree.

1) The goal in Iraq is twofold: A. To have a country ruled by its own people via a government that respects the natural and civil rights of its people while maintaining an internationally recognized state (with stable boundaries, population, and interaction with other states). In order for this to occur, the citizens must acknowledge, respect, and participate in their government. B. To achieve A with the least amount of harm to everyone. This includes removing US troops—if there are troops there, someone’s in danger, be they American, Iraqi, or otherwise.

2) As of today, Iraq is further from the goals stated in 1 than when US invaded in March 2003. There is one central reason: lack of security. In order for a state to become stable, it must be safe. Here safe refers to two things. A. Secure in one’s everyday outside-the-home affairs such as going to work, shopping, etc. B. Secure in one’s personal liberties, including freedom to worship any god in anyway one pleases.

Iraq, then, has thus far failed to reach 1 because of 2.

3) The main reason why Iraq is not secure is due to a relatively small number of extremist militants, Shiite and Sunni, who are fighting each other as well as foreign troops via methods that implicate civilians’ well-being. This violates 2. Quite simply, then, the increase of troops—so long as its goal is to eliminate these extremist factions and so long as the troops leave once this is accomplished—will provide the security (at least in Baghdad) that is a necessity for the country to be successful.

One way to see the current situation in Iraq is that there are three possible courses of action to take. One is to keep everything as is, which is obviously unacceptable; two is to increase the troop level; and three is to begin removing troops from Iraq. The following are reasons why a pullout is less likely to succeed than a troop increase.

4) The congress people who have passed resolutions against the troop increase and are advocating a pullout have failed to fully map out their idea. Even in the State of the Union rebuttal, Jim Webb of Virginia focused on the failure of the War but could not muster an explanation as to how exactly the troop pullout would work.

5) If we take both possibilities to extremes, we see yet another reason why the increase is more sensible. If the troop increase fails, the worst case scenario is that Iraq will continue to look as it does today—which is not good, but better than the alternative, described in 6—and we can always revert to the pullout plan.

6) Following the rationale behind the proposal for a troop pullout: the US and other foreign officials would train Iraqi officers and proceed with non-military assistance (meaning money and political advice). However, without a US troop presence enforcing at least some semblance of order, and considering the general ineptitude of the Iraqi forces, the extremist factions that are currently terrorizing civilians every day will gain more ground—which is hard to imagine, considering there’s already a full-scale Civil War as we speak—and remove any possibility of achieving security. Also, because of the unpopularity of the War, it would be politically impossible to return troops to the area; therefore it would be nearly impossible even to attempt the fix the situation, except perhaps through international means (which would be a good thing and a fair critique to my argument, as in: taking out troops would be better because as everything devolves into chaos the international community would have to step in; but the amount of deaths before international intervention makes this idea a grisly prospect).

The main problem with the argument is this: why should we trust the administration and its decision-makers when everything they’ve done thus far has failed time and again? Well, for one, we don’t have much of a choice. After all, we as a nation voted them (either directly or indirectly) into the positions they currently hold. Secondly, there has been a change in leadership from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to Gen. David H. Petraeus. Thirdly, the War’s unpopularity has reached a level so high that all the decision-makers simply have to succeed in this endeavor—their political careers rely on it.

The major goal is to end the Iraq War as quickly as possible. There are too many tragic, avoidable deaths occurring every day. Unfortunately, the most effective way to end the War is counter-intuitive. It require more soldiers, with more guns, and therefore more death. But this is a bridge we must cross in order to reach an independent, safe, fully functioning Iraqi state.