Thomas Sowell

"And then what?" That is the question which should be asked of those who are demanding that we pull out of Iraq now.

No candid answer should be expected from cynical politicians like Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who have their bets riding big time on an American defeat in Iraq, as their ticket to winning the 2008 elections.

But that question should be answered by those who honestly and sincerely think that a troop pullout is the answer to the Iraq problem. What do they think will happen if we do?

That question is studiously avoided by those in politics and the media who urge pulling out.

Those who deal in talking points may believe, or claim to believe, that there will be no further repercussions. But those who have to confront the real world know that pulling out now is a formula for a bigger disaster than anything that has already happened in Iraq.

Should American troops stay in Iraq indefinitely?

Nobody has ever wanted that. Our whole history shows that American troops have repeatedly pulled out of countries around the world when wars ended and enough order was restored to turn the country over to its own people.

The political conflict today is between people who think that pulling out should depend on conditions in Iraq, as those conditions unfold, rather than on arbitrary timetables created by politicians with no military experience, and with a time horizon that extends no further than the 2008 elections.

Those who say that the Iraq war has nothing to do with the war on terror seem not to notice that the terrorists themselves obviously think otherwise.

Terrorists are pouring men and military equipment into Iraq, with the help of Iran, and using suicide bombers there for some reason.

Terrorists recognize the high stakes in the outcome of this war, even if growing numbers of people over here refuse to.

To drive the United States out of Iraq would be a huge victory for the terrorists, attracting both recruits and support from around the world, and causing countries around the world to reconsider their ties to the United States.

International cooperation is essential to thwarting and disrupting terrorist activities, through such things as intelligence sharing among nations and clampdowns on the international money flows that finance terrorist activities.

But how many countries will continue to cooperate with the United States when they know that the terrorists are in this for the long haul, while the U.S. can abandon them to their fate at any moment, whenever it becomes politically expedient at home?


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate