Washington Libertarian Review

Political commentary from the State of Washington with a libertarian perspective.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Poor Exit Strategy from Iraq

The national Libertarian Party recently posted a plan for phased withdrawal from Iraq on its web site, www.lp.org.

Their plan generally calls for a reduction in force over a year, coupled with military and financial assistance to help the Iraqi government build its own policing capabilities.

Most Americans now agree that the War in Iraq was a mistake. All thoughtful Americans agree that we need to find a way to end the fighting. But, the Libertarian plan is just a bad plan.

First, any gradual withdrawal is a bad idea conceptually because it means we have a slowly dwindling force left behind by design.

There is considerable question right now about whether a force of almost 150,000 is sufficient to adequately defend Americans and American installations against the insurgents. As our military muscle is slowly diminished in a phased withdrawal, those forcibly left behind (pursuant to the plan) are deliberately exposed to greater and greater danger.

It's just wrong to leave a force behind that's incapable of adequately defending itself. If the Libertarian’s plan were adopted, how would you like to be assigned to the last brigade scheduled for departure in late 2006?

No matter how fast we get out, someone will be on the last helicopter. Those particular soldiers will be most exposed. Why make them (essentially) sit at the airport for months and months?

Also, the announcement of a full and complete withdrawal as fast as is possible might be met by a kind of unannounced “grace” period, allowing a clean get-away. But, a plan to leave behind a dwindling force for long periods of time surely will be seen as a lengthy opportunity to fire away at more and more poorly equipped Americans.

So, a “gradual,” or incremental, withdrawal is just a bad military idea. Once it’s time to leave, we should do so as rapidly as it’s possible to move, getting everyone out together.

Second, the plan’s reason for staying another year is to provide a military defense of the current Iraqi government.

My objection is to the very strategy of our providing assistance to the current government. There are people in Iraq who oppose this government.

Yes, it was elected. But, how do we know anything really about the fairness of the election? (It was fair because President Bush says so?) The minority Sunni Muslims mostly boycotted it and are not represented – at the very least, they are under-represented.

So, what we have is a current government run by the majority Shiite clerics who have a long-standing beef with minority Sunni's and a reason to abuse and oppress the Sunnis, yet we have decided to train, arm and protect the Shiites. Why? It’s like deciding to assure the Nazis have enough firepower to defeat any Jewish opposition.

We gave arms, money and protection to the Shah of Iran. We gave arms, money and assistance to Osama bin Laden when he led the Mujahadeen against the Russian invasion of Afghanistan. We gave arms, money and assistance to Saddam Hussain when he made war on the Iranians who'd overthrown the Shah. At the time, we thought we were arming and assisting “friends,” but each time things didn’t exactly pan out as planned. Isn't it time we quit arming, training and equipping armies in the Middle-East?

The LP’s plan is designed to assure that the current Iraqi regime gets its hands on an effective military force. Why, why, why should we do that again, thus earning the enmity of whoever is abused by one more military power we’ve created?

The existence of a plan – any plan – is encouraging, but a thoughtful argument for adopting the Libertarian plan must address these essential objections.


Blogger Richard Shepard said...

Mills assumes that the foreign policy wonks at the NLP are just plain ignorant. I wonder.

While a phased withdrawal may not make military sense, it can make political sense, depending on your politics. I mean this. The very design that Mills complains about could well provide the US with reason to reenter the area at a later date, i.e., to "bring peace and order" to an out of control situation.

Stated alternatively, those left behind would be intentionally left behind as targets--and if the targets get hit American sympathies will once again turn toward occupation and "strength beyond challenge."

This would play directly into The National Security Strategy of the United States of America.

If the NLP was thinking politically and not militarily I say we have a lot of soul searching to do.

8:02 AM  

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