I was reading this morning about Bush's non-celebration of the anniversary of the war. Central to Bush's stated reason for staying the course in Iraq is that if we don't fight them there, we'll fight them here. The corollary to that is that if we leave Iraq the region will erupt into a violent mess.
One thing that struck me as I was looking at his flawed logic is to remember the same types of warnings about Indochina during the Vietnam war. And indeed, when we left there were purges and genocide largely perpetrated against those who had sided with the American occupation. Would that genocide have occurred if we didn't go there in the first place? No one knows. And I think the same can be said of Iraq.
I'm not sure if Iraq or the region will fall apart if we leave. I suspect that there'll will be no peace as long as we are there. But I do know that the biggest allies of the United States vs. Islamic fundamentalists are the ordinary Arab citizens. Unlike Afghanistan, which is largely an undeveloped pre-modern culture, Iraq has a developed economy, liberal secular tradition and an abundance of natural resources. Should the Americans leave Iraq, will the ordinary Iraqi citizen desire a turn-back of the clock to the 15th century? I suspect not. But as long as we occupy Iraq the Arab street will maintain sympathy with anyone
who fights the occupation.
The longer we stay, the longer we handcuff our biggest ally, the average Arab citizen. The sooner we leave, the sooner the area residents sort out their desires for the future. And if the past is any indication, they'll largely support a government/societal culture that is closer to the west than to fundamentalist Islam. It may not look like our society, but it was foolish and naive to think it ever would.
Afterall, who would have thought 60 years ago that our biggest trading partner would be China, and that American dignitaries would routinely visit Vietnam on trade missions? I say we give our real ally in the Great War on Terror a hand and get out of the way. Then the issues to be decided can be the real issues rather than our continued presence being a great excuse for further development of Islamic fundamentalism.