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Last Updated: 06/09/2006Iraq in the Balance
Few people would disagree that George W. Bush’s stated goals in Iraq - spreading democracy and quelling the threat of Islamic extremism - are indeed worthwhile. What most of the world objects to are his methods - invading a foreign country, flipping Europe the bird, and alienating for good any Middle Easterners who were already a little suspicious of the West.
This is something to ponder as we in the United States approach the next presidential elections, elections that will most likely hinge on what should be done about the mess in Iraq. I say this because there seems to be a large and rather rabid contingent of the Democratic Party that is advocating a full-scale withdraw of US troops.
Our troops our dying, Bush lied, the Middle East hates us more every day, and it’s time to leave, the argument goes. Really, I can’t think of a faster way to plunge Iraq into the hellish, full-scale civil war it’s been flirting with for the last year and a half, and I can’t think of a more selfish option either.
Although it would be a great way to win some easy points against the Republicans - and a good “I-told-you-so” opportunity for Europe - the real losers would be the Iraqis. The US got the Iraqis into this mess and, whether you voted for Bush or not, we have a moral responsibility to somehow get them out of it.
Better, therefore, than a candidate who promises wholesale withdraw from Iraq is one who is able to both acknowledge the disaster that the Iraq War is, and reaffirm the US’s responsibility to fix it.
Such a candidate wouldn’t be advocating a stay-the-course, go-it-alone policy: rather he (or she!) would both maintain US troops and investment in Iraq, and invite the rest of the international community to give us a hand. This, of course, will require humility, and probably the endurance of some gloating from certain quarters, but pride shouldn’t be our primary concern here.
Which takes us back to my original point: few people would disagree that a democratic, moderate Iraq would be a good thing in the Middle East. Hating it because it was Bush’s project does no good for the Iraqi people. What they need is peace and democracy, and an American president who can compromise, re-form alliances, and turn Iraq into the world project it should have been in the first place.
Let’s hope that in 2008 there will be a candidate who promises to do just that.
Peter Krupa is the editor of the Peace & Conflict Monitor