Friday, January 12, 2007

Handling The Hot Potato That’s Iraq

After everyone has had a chance to allow President Bush’s new Iraq plan to sink in, there are a few things that need to be reflected on and considered.

One of the highest criticisms from politicians, military experts and just about everyone else is that the more than 20,000 additional troops are not enough to carry this plan to victory. More troops are needed. I certainly agree and I have yet to find any countries in the “coalition of the willing” who have volunteered more of their men and women. Maybe these news articles have escaped my noticed.

Before our troops fired the first shot in this war, President Bush said it would not be like the Vietnam War, meaning our troops would not have restrictions placed on them when going after the enemy. For whatever reason, this faulty policy, most likely to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi citizens, was implemented. They would not want to see American or Iraq troops on holy land or places of worship. The president addressed this in his speech.

“In earlier operations, political and sectarian interference prevented Iraqi and American forces from going into neighborhoods that are home to those fueling the sectarian violence. This time, Iraqi and American forces will have a green light to enter these neighborhoods — and Prime Minister (Nouri al- )Maliki has pledged that political or sectarian interference will not be tolerated,” the president said on Wednesday evening.

And this has been addressed countless times during the operation of the war. Hopefully now that the “green light” is on, will we see the results needed to stabilize Baghdad and the rest of the country.

The president also stressed what would happen if the plan failed or what would happen if Iraq’s leaders did not follow through with it. The insurgents and terrorists would have a strong foothold in Iraq and will threaten not only the region and the surrounding countries but America as well. The president should have thrown Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad into the mix as well, because of his undisclosed deal with Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. (See Dec. 1, 2006, Times Observer blog, “Iraq Is Sleeping With The Enemy,” for more.)

But will this plan be allowed in Iraq? With Iraq’s president making a shady deal with Ahmadinejad and the deadly Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr having a follower in al-Maliki, it seems unlikely. Even though President Bush quoted al-Maliki as saying, “The Baghdad security plan will not provide a safe haven for any outlaws, regardless of [their] sectarian or political affiliation,” it should not give us a false sense of security.

And with Talabani and al-Maliki making deals or supporting deadly men, is it worth being in Iraq if its leaders are willing to throw everything that has been fought with blood, sweat and tears away?

In addition, it has been reported that our troops are having a hard time training Iraqis to take over security detail. American soldiers have said that a good number of Sunnis troops being trained do not want to help the Shiites and do not trust them. And the reverse is also true, with Shiite troops do not want to aid the Sunnis. Our troops have also said that both groups of soldiers refuse to follow orders, sometimes saying “if Allah wills it.”

With these two black eyes on Iraq’s defiance to unify and become a country for all the people, America could use this as a graceful bow to exit the war with some dignity. Not too many people would blame the U.S. for doing that.

But a U.S. withdraw of Iraq would collapse it and provide insurgents and terrorists a huge base of operations, giving them oil fields to either black mail other countries or use the profits to fund their jihad on all non-radical Muslims. And we cannot allow to give them, especially al-Qaeda, that kind of victory.