After four years, 3,500 dead, 25,000 wounded and half a trillion dollars spent, the four strategic goals of Sen. Lugar have not only not been attained, they are receding. Removing U.S. troops may only advance the day that all are lost.
If the U.S. forces, the most effective in Iraq, have failed to eradicate the al Qaeda nests in Anbar, how does he suppose the Shia-dominated government and Iraqi army will succeed?
With the sectarian civil war near its height when a U.S. surge is underway, how will ending the surge and pulling out those troops cool, rather than unleash, the passions for killing?
As for Iran's domination of the Gulf, fear of that was a major argument made against going to war. If you smash the only Arab nation in the Gulf able to stand up to Persian Iran, overthrow its Sunni regime and introduce majority, i.e., Shia rule, how can Iran not be the beneficiary?
This war was not thought through. It was not only mismanaged, it was an historic strategic blunder to begin with.
Any U.S. war to overthrow Iran's enemies -- the Taliban in Kabul, Saddam and his Sunni Baathists in Baghdad -- cannot but result in making Iran more dominant in the Gulf when the Americans depart. By eliminating the counterweight to Iranian domination, we guaranteed that either we become that counterweight, or there is none.
As for preventing a loss of U.S. credibility in the region and the world, it is a little late for that. Bin Laden said Americans are weaker than Russians. They will not take the casualties. Was he wrong?
In his assessment of the Iraqi government, the cracking U.S. Army and the dwindling American will to sustain this war, Lugar is right. But no energetic diplomacy is going to save for this country what the best army in the world fighting four years could not hold.
The self-deceptions must end. When we draw down and pull out U.S. forces, the odds will rise steadily that this war ends as did the one in Southeast Asia -- with our friends slaughtered and our enemies triumphant. We may all hope not, but hope is a virtue, not a policy.
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