Premature Withdrawal from Iraq: PR or Insanity?

by on July 27th, 2005

Yahoo news reports: ‘Iraq’s prime minister said Wednesday he wants U.S. troops “on their way out” as soon as his government can protect its new democracy. ‘

Is this a publicity stunt required to appease nationalist sentiment and international media?

I hope so.

There is no doubt that Iraqis want to run their own country. That’s a good thing. But, the key is in the second part of the sentence: “as soon as his government can protect its new democracy.”

A complete withdrawal of our troops within the next few years would force Iraq into a downwards spiral towards anarchy. The bloodshed would continue until another ruthless thug comes around and kills everyone that opposes him. Then, we’d be back to square one. If you think the war is expensive now, imagine the unthinkable cost of ultimately losing Iraq.

Our (gradually reduced) presence in Iraq will be required for the next five to ten years. There is a philosophy that militaries in democracies must adopt. A military force must understand itself to be a tool of the state, subjected to civilian power. The Iraqi military cannot be abandoned until we ensure that they have the necessary institutional ethos of protecting civilian power. An alternative to anarchy could also be a military coup by a self-perceived independent actor.

On the other hand, it seems the media is getting bored with Bush’s resolve. The topic of a troop withdrawal may be just that – a way to stir the pot.

I hope this isn’t just wishful thinking on my part. I hope there are people that understand the consequences of an early withdrawal, and will withstand the mounting pressure of shortsightedness.

John McDonald