Friday, April 27, 2007

The Incalculable Cost of Surrender

Retired Marine Corps LTC Oliver North has authored the first article I have seen addressing in detail the likely ramifications of a withdrawal of our forces from Iraq.

. . . What would losing the war in Iraq mean? It's a picture so dark and depressing that it makes the collapse in Vietnam, 32 years ago next week, look like a Sunday school picnic. The fall of Saigon was horrific for the people of Vietnam and their neighbors in Cambodia and Laos. More than 5 million became refugees and by the most conservative estimates at least a million others perished.

For most Americans, the consequences were minimal. The vast majority of the 2.8 million of us who had fought and bled there mourned the loss of 58,253 of our comrades, swallowed the bitterness of defeat and got on with our lives. Our nation spent a few hundred million tax dollars on refugee relief and resettlement, and tried to forget what people in Reid's party called "the long nightmare of Vietnam."

But classified U.S. intelligence assessments, military contingency plans and staff studies evaluating the consequences of a precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Iraq, coupled with the lack of funding for political reform measures, as contained in the legislation just passed by Reid's party, paint a far more dismal picture than anything that happened after Vietnam.

-- Within months, an immediate upsurge in vicious sectarian violence fomented by Iranian intervention on behalf of Shiite militias and Wahabbi-supported, Al Qaeda-affiliated terror groups. As U.S. forces retreat to a half-dozen staging areas for retrograde through Kuwait and Jordan, American casualties will dramatically increase as suicide bombers seek "martyrdom" in their victory.

-- Inside of 18 months, the fragile democratically elected government in Baghdad will collapse, precipitating a real sectarian civil war and the creation of Taliban-like "regional governments" that will impose brutal, misogynistic rule throughout the country. The ensuing flood of refuges into Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, Turkey and Iran will overwhelm relief organizations, creating a humanitarian disaster making what's happening in Darfur pale by comparison.

-- The Kurds in northern Iraq are likely to declare an autonomous region that could well result in Turkish, Iranian and even Syrian military intervention.

-- In the course of withdrawing U.S. combat brigades and support units, billions of dollars in American military equipment and ordnance will have to be destroyed or left behind. More than $40 billion in reconstruction projects for schools, health-care facilities, sanitation, clean water, electrical distribution and agricultural development will be abandoned. Plans to exploit the new West Qurna oil field in southeastern Iraq will be forsaken.

-- The governments of Kuwait, Jordan, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, intimidated by Iranian boldness in acquiring nuclear weapons, will likely insist on the withdrawal of American military bases from their territories. Such a move will jeopardize U.S. naval operations in the Persian Gulf and logistics, intelligence collection and command and control facilities supporting operations in Afghanistan.

-- As Iraq becomes a battleground for the centuries-long Sunni-Shia conflict, radical Islamic terror organizations will use the territories they control to prepare and launch increasingly deadly terror attacks around the globe against U.S. citizens, businesses and interests.

Reid and his cohorts in Congress who believe "this war is lost" have acted to ensure that it will be. No one asked them: "If we lost, who won?" The answer should be obvious.
The last question should have included "and at what cost to us in the future?" Read the entire article here.

I think that LTC North misses only a few of the ramifications. Al Qaeda grew strong in the 1990's on the basis of their claim to defeating one of the world's super-powers, the Soviet Union, in Afghanistan. If al Qaeda is able to claim such a victory in Iraq - and they will do so and be believed if America retreats before Iraq is stabilized - the radicalization of Islam and new adherents to al Qaeda's philosophy will jump off the charts. It will also be taken as an affirmation of al Qaeda tactics - the extreme violence against the softest targets.

Iran's theocrats will likewise have their vision of Allah's will and the weakness of the West reaffirmed. Will there be any chance of stopping them from attaining nuclear weapons if we withdraw from Iraq? And as they attain a nuclear arsenal, the threat of atomic attacks in the west go up exponentially.

The threat radical Islam will pose to the West post-Iraq retreat dwarfs the threat we faced on 9-10.

The ramifications of leaving Iraq under the plan now passed by the Democrats has gotten no play. But it is of course the central question for our national security over the next half century, if not longer.

The Democrats plan for retreat, if enacted, will effect the ability of any future American President to commit the military overseas in the defense of American interests. He or she will have in the back of their mind that even if force is approved by Congress, that is meaningless for the war effort and any bold act involving ground troops may well be political suicide.

Further, I suspect our foreign policy will be greatly diminished. Who will ally with us in the future against extremists of whatever stripe if we cannot be counted on to finish what we have started? Two, our threats of force will be of no effect. And because of that, it will mean vastly greater bloodshed in the future when our honest threats go unheeded and we are required to act. Please do not forget that it was Sadaam's view of the U.S. as a "paper tiger" based on Vietnam that tipped his calculus in deciding to invade Kuwait.

All of this should be the sole focus of the debate on the Iraq war? Yet to date there has been nary a peep.

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