Fighting Terrorism in Iraq is a One Way Ticket
Prof. Dr. Tahir Albakaa
Boston – USA
The land of Iraq has become the battlefield for a global conflict whose results will also be international. It resembles, to a large degree, World Wars I and II. Defeat will, indeed, signify international confinement. More accurately, this is a one way ticket war. Though the US overthrew both the Taliban and Saddam’s regimes as part of what it considered the axis of evil, it has not yet been able to overcome terrorism in either country. This is the problem.
In politics, actions and decisions are judged by consequences, not intentions. While good policies do not guarantee success, bad policies definitely guarantee failure. Regardless of what one believes about the war in Iraq, the overthrow of its regime, the reasons for the war and the motives behind it, it [the war] happened with an ease that nobody expected and with losses barely worth mentioning. This is why in April 2003 President Bush delivered his speech from the American vessel [ship that carries warplanes] Abraham Lincoln, announcing the end of grand military operations in Iraq.
The declared goals of the war included the search for Iraqi mass destruction weapons, which events have shown are non-existent although Iraq exerted all possible efforts to obtain, at any price, even if only the more limited of WMDs like dual/twofold/twin chemical [I assume there is a particular terminology for this] or the dirty, cheap and easy to produce biological weapons.
Another public goal for the war was the democratization of Iraq, which has been successfully achieved. Current circumstances allow for all Iraqi political powers and parties, of different affinities, from fundamentalist-religious to secular, to work in absolute freedom. Such freedom might not be obtainable in countries where democracy has been established for decades. In post-Saddam Iraqevery ambitious person can establish a party or a TV station –local or satellite —or issue a newspaper. Until now, no law organizes the work of these parties or prevents their aggression against others.
Among the most outstanding successes in this domain are the January 2005 democratic elections, the drafting of a permanent Iraqi constitution, the subsequent referendum, and the forthcoming elections due December 15th, 2005 designed to establish a permanent Iraqi government. This success—were it to continue—will potentially transform Iraq to a radiant center influencing/impacting, sooner or later, all the countries in the region to various degrees. Some of its good signs are already evident in the political activity which will become an ice-ball growing with time and with the stability of the Iraqi experience.
It is well known that targeting the Iraqi regime was part of the United States policy after the September 11th, 2001 crime, when the US administration included it in what it considered the axis of evil. While the US administration overthrew the Taliban and Saddam’s regime/establishment/government/systems, terrorist hubs from all tracks gathered in Iraq. Those powers fearing or opposing the American administration started supporting US-opposition forces in Iraq thus transforming Iraq into a battleground/combat zone for a global conflict whose results are also global, resembling, to a great extent, the results of the first and second world wars. The defeated on Iraqi ground will be defeated globally, and the conquering/triumphant will collect the fruit of victory internationally at least for the first half of the twenty-first century.
The war against terrorism in Iraq does not have partial/moderate results or the option of retreat; it is a one-way ticket war that ends in either victory or defeat. Therefore, those who were opposed to the war decision, while we still respect their viewpoint, we disagree with them calling now for a rapid and early withdrawal of the alliance forces from Iraq.
It is imperative to reiterate that we hope and work for the American withdrawal from Iraq and the end of occupation. Not only because these are the wishes and demands of the Iraqi people demands, but also as it will add credibility to the declared American policy to wok for the spread of democracy and not the occupation of countries. The withdrawal, however, needs to occur within a clear exist strategy and accurate timing so that it does not send the wrong message to the terrorist forces and those supporting them, exactly as president Bush announced in his speech [DATE OF SPEECH?].
Before demanding immediate/rapid withdrawal we need to recognize Iraqi needs ensuing from the war and the consequent decrees enacted by the American civilian commissioner [Paul Bremer, topUS representative in Iraq and head of the Coalition Provisional Authority]. As a result, Iraq has lost all necessary elements/components/building blocks to confront even the weakest nearby countries after the dismantling of its army, security apparatus and border police. Terrorist forces have entered Iraq and organized themselves; they are embraced in areas most affected from the fall of Saddam’s regime and the American commissioner’s modus operandi/course of action. In the meanwhile, the policy of ethnic, sectarian and political quota employed by the American civil commissioner contributed to the weakening of the Iraqi society’s fabric and divided it into regions/areas controlled by forces and parties whose narrow ethnic or sectarian goals do not put forward comprehensive national programs. These parties are the ones which possess the money, the weaponry and the militias and receive generous and solid external support.
Therefore, it is a mistake to even think, let alone demand, immediate withdrawal. Further, US withdrawal from Iraq should become an ‘election card’ for internal US party purposes because it [withdrawal] requires a realistic and accurate vision capable of predicting the consequences of sending a wrong message by beliving in and demanding immediate withdrawal.
Supporters of immediate withdrawal should rather focus on principal issues. First, the reformation and proper training of both the Iraqi army and police forces with proper armaments and latitude to assume authority/responsibility. Second, the opening of wide investment opportunities in Iraq in order to achieve development and terminate widespread unemployment which has reached over 40%. Unemployment is a key source of problems and it is the ground from which terrorism garners some of its components and from where some parties harvest the components to form its militias. The third step is the urgency to build civic society organizations/institutions and to successfully monitor the performance of parties and forces which have employed deceipt, terrorist tactics, assassinations, and have confiscated the freedom of others in a modern society committed to democratic practice.
The United States, government and people, have ethical commitments which they have to fulfill towards the Iraqi people. Was the US to relinquish this commitment and abandon Iraq to face its destiny after terrorism has mushroomed and after its neighbors are thirst for its land and richness, it [the US] will loose any and all credibility. As such, the US will have repeated the same mistake it made during its confrontation with the Russian occupation to Afghanistan when it established, in cooperation with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, a farm for the production of fundamentalist self-righteous groups. That farm which produced terrorism has become a four-headed-beast which now threatens international/global security and peace.
It would be a mistake to base the Iraqi issue only on military facts on the ground, with calculations of human and material losses. The issue is larger than that/goes beyond that reaching dangerous political deliberations which will cost the US a far-reaching price whose bill/invoice is not limited to Iraq but expands to the Middle East, at best. Are those demanding immediate withdrawal—leaving Iraq alone to heal its wounds—conscious of and ready/willing to pay these bills or face the results of a war whose nature, results and implications are global?