Could Iraq’s Instability be Good for America?

Much discussion has centered on the current situation in Iraq where Islamist militants from the group ISIS have gained control of large swaths of the country. Some say their success defeating a seemingly pathetic and unmotivated Iraqi army proves that Obama pulled out of Iraq too early. The problem with this claim is that the people who make it never explain when WOULD have been the proper time to pull out. Reports from Iraq reveal that the Iraqi military seems to flee at the first sign of conflict. Even the “stay in Iraq forever” pages of the Wall Street Journal reports that “Iraqi soldiers who are supposed to protect Baghdad are dressing in civilian clothes beneath their military uniforms in case they have to flee.” With the Iraqis unwilling to defend their own country from militants, it appears that if we want to keep Iraq a peaceful pro-west country, we would have to keep a permanent force there. This may have been what we did in Europe, Japan and Korea, but there were not insurgencies in these countries.

The situation in Iraq points to a glaring hole in the logic of neoconservatives. There are right that announcing a deadline for withdrawal only tells the enemy militants how long they have to wait us out, but the fact is that so long as we plan on leaving at some point in the future, militants know they only have to wait until that point. Unless we are willing to sacrifice American lives in the Middle East for decades more to come, insurgencies will always know they can wait us out. That is just the nature of an insurgency.

I do think that there is some “good” coming out of this situation, even if it comes from unfortunate human suffering. No one should want to see people die, but perhaps the seemingly likely future civil war in Iraq won’t be so bad for the USA. In Syria, for instance, Islamists and other enemies of ours seem content on killing each other instead of killing us. I rarely ever quote Sarah Palin, but she made a crude but interesting point when she said of Syria to “Let Allah sort it out.” One argument for the Iraq and Afghan wars was that we can fight em’ over there or fight em’ over here. The events unfolding today can have that same effect as fighting them over there, except we don’t have to do any fighting ourselves. Let them waste their lives and resources on each other.

Some claim that after such a civil war a “terrorist” state will emerge. First off, if it is a state, it is not a terrorist organization. We didn’t call Nazi Germany a terrorist organization simply because they attacked us. Terrorist is a political word. Secondly, so what if one emerges? We deal with lots of countries that hate us just fine. I don’t remember Iranian attacks on America. And if the new Islamic state did attack in any way, we would know exactly where to attack. The challenge all of these years has been fighting an insurgency that refuses to fight in the field. But if the insurgents formed a regular old nation state, it would be much easier to know where to drop the bombs.

Whatever happens in the next few weeks, lets just all remain calm and rational and not jump to any pro or anti-war conclusions. At this point the only thing we know for certain is that Obama has been lying when he tells us terrorism is on the run.

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