Victory in Iraq

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Without a doubt, the United States of America possesses the most powerful military in the world. No armed force on Earth will likely achieve our level of might today for many a year. Technologies that to us seem to be yesterday’s innovations such as nuclear bombs, stealth fighters, and bunker busters are unrealizable dreams for most nations in any era.

Our soldiers are amongst the best trained in the world and willing to do anything required to defend America. Yet, somehow the United States military faces a daily struggle to maintain control in Iraq. How can we be so omnipotent and so inept at the same time?

The blame is not to be laid upon any soldier fighting, or any general conducting the war. These men follow the orders of the commander-in-chief’s and congress’s wishes to remain in Iraq. The real issue is the unlikeliness of final victory in Iraq.

Consider this. Our overall objective is to build up local Iraqi forces to the point where they can police and defend their own country. We are constantly told how well the Iraqi government prepares its forces. Some months, the Iraqis are on schedule but some months not. The U.S. agenda sets quotas of troop levels which don’t speak to the quality, loyalty, or readiness of these forces.

So, here lies the problem: if our troops who are the most powerful in the world are having trouble with insurgents, how strong must the Iraqi military be when coalition forces leave? The Iraqi army would have to be as gargantuan and as powerful as the U.S. military only to maintain current levels of stability which can hardly be considered firmly secure.

The only solution would be to make the Iraqi army even stronger than our own. Not only is this strategy not humanly possible, it is outright dangerous to long term stability in the Middle East. This armament will only lead to training the next Osama bin Laden.

These logical inconsistencies lead to an inconvenient question, "Is there any real pull out strategy…….ever?" No. Not for tomorrow, or five years from now, not even 20 years hence; there is no real strategy for departing Iraq at all. And indeed, given present policies, why should there be? After all, our country now has some 700 military bases in about 130 countries, some of them (Europe, Japan, Korea) for almost half a century. Why should Iraq be any different? But U.S. taxpayers can’t afford to finance our soldiers’ stay in Iraq forever, and that unhappy country cannot pay the costs of garrisoning an army the size of the United States’ in its wildest dreams.

This conundrum leaves the United States between a rock and a hard place since no one can afford to keep fighting the war. The Canadian dollar is now worth more than our currency. The U.S. dollar has lost out in comparison with the Euro, the yen, and many other currencies. This is just plain embarrassing. Under these unfortunate circumstances, it would appear we have only two options. Either the U.S. leaves Iraq right now, risking the temporary chaos that may well ensue, or withdraw from Iraq in 20 years or so completely bankrupt with our own economy destroyed watching chaos envelope that country anyway. Iraq will never have an army like ours no matter how much we build it up. Nor will anything less suffice.

There is a third option, however; we stay in Iraq forever. This would lead to the deaths of countless Americans and the bankrupting of our entire economy. We assume only patriotic Americans are reading this article, not Islamo-fascists who would support option three.

If you truly think that we should stay in Iraq indefinitely, then please report yourself to the Department of Homeland Security, because you could only support such a policy if you hated America and were in league with the Islamo-fascists.

But wait Mr. Vuk and Dr. Block, aren’t we winning?! Isn’t the troop surge working? Who can say for sure, but we can tell you the difference between propagandist rhetoric and logical rationale. First, how do you determine whether you’re winning in a war like this? There are certainly no battle fronts or capitals to ransack. Well, many of our presidential candidates have a measure.

According to news reports, fewer soldiers than usual have died in the past few months. And this statistic is supposed proof of the troop surge’s efficiency. But wait one second, since when do fewer casualties mean that we’re winning? According to this logic, the Allies lost the battle of D-Day during WWII. Thousands of men died on Omaha Beach. Surely this means America lost. Someone should also send the Russians a memo alerting them to the historical failures of battles both at Stalingrad and Berlin where hundreds of thousands of their soldiers fell, many more than the Germans lost.

It is obvious that the American people are being misled regarding the actual status of the conflict. The amount of dead has nothing to with whether a nation is strategically succeeding in warfare. Absolutely nothing! In fact, victory often comes at the expense of more lives not fewer. In reality, there is no real way to tell whether you are winning or not in such conflicts.

Some claim that "we’re fighting them over there; so that we don’t have to fight them over here." For a fuller analysis of this fallacious line of thinking read here.

What can we do under these dire circumstances? There is only one option: Let’s get out of Middle East affairs entirely. The United States should no longer intervene in Middle Eastern countries and only maintain mutually beneficial trade.

The terrorists don’t hate us for our freedom. The fundamentalists revile the U.S. for four reasons: our alliance with Israel; our imperialist presence in the Middle East in general; our occupation of their Holy Land in particular, Saudi Arabia; and the fact that we have for over a decade been bombing and blockading Iraq.

With regard to this last atrocity, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked if the U.S. sanctions against Iraq, which were responsible for killing some half a million children, were "worth it." She replied in the affirmative. See on this here and here.

If Hillary, John, or Obama are elected from the Democratic side, or Rudy, Mitt, the Huck, John or Fred from the Republican, they will continue all four hated policies and will continue to make the United States of America a prime target.

Leaving any troops will still make the U.S. a target. Both Democrat and "mainstream" Republican non-withdrawal plans would be a disaster for our soldiers. If US troops are actually reduced, those remaining in the region will be weakened with fewer numbers. Both parties have a "helpless and stranded" evacuation plan.

Only one candidate, Ron Paul, offers the option of exiting the Middle East entirely and changing the ultimate target in the eyes of the terrorists.

Another line of thinking says that the terrorists attack us for our freedom and prosperity. If you believe this, then our course in the war thus far is correct. America should remain in Iraq, because staying any longer will ensure the United States is neither free nor prosperous. According to this theory, the terrorist should thereafter cease their aggression, a "brilliant" strategy. One wonders, then, why the terrorists have not targeted other countries that are rich and relatively free, and also feature mini-skirts and rock-and-roll music, such as Norway, or Japan.

The United States of America is in a tough jam. Our only alternative is to get out of the Middle East entirely. Not one half the troops out, not one quarter, all! And not in a decade, nor even a year nor yet six months. Our exit should be measured in hours, not even days.

We are the most powerful military in the world. If the U.S. can’t win a war, it is good evidence that the war was unwinnable in the first place. The conflict will not be won, because it simply cannot be won. Our ultimate choices are between withdrawing our troops now with America as an intact nation or doing so years from now broken and bankrupt.

Vedran Vuk [send him mail] has a bachelor degree of economics from Loyola University of New Orleans, and was a 2006 Summer Fellow at the Mises Institute. He is currently pursuing a doctorate of economics at George Mason University. Dr. Block [send him mail] is a professor of economics at Loyola University New Orleans, and a senior fellow of the Ludwig von Mises Institute. He is the author of Defending the Undefendable.

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