The appropriate gift for a third anniversary is crystal. While we lack the budget to be so generous to the Bush administration after the third anniversary of our occupation of Iraq last Sunday, perhaps we can offer some crystal clear advice: face the facts of the civil war descending on Iraq and offer more than PR stunts and stay-the-course rhetoric. This country does not have the luxury of indecision.
In Iraq today, there is a civil war between the Shi’ite majority and the Sunni minority. Numerous journalists and political science experts, including Larry Diamond, a major proponent of democratization, and the country’s former Prime Minister, Iyad Allawi, agree. But the Bush administration denies the facts on the ground. That is not a strategy for victory.
The President’s position deserves some sympathy. The situation he finds himself in, both abroad and at home, is so fractured as to pose an almost inextricable problem. It is not worth rehashing the administration’s reasons for bringing our country to war, except to note that three years later they are all debunked: no connection with Al Quaeda, no weapons of mass destruction and no friend in the Middle East.
And what about the administration’s post facto justification of democratization? Perhaps the greatest tragedy of our young century is that our country stumbled onto this goal by accident, led by an administration too incompetent to fulfill the promise of Wilsonian liberalism.
At home, despite the death or injury of nearly 20,000 Americans, we are not at war. There has been little or no sacrifice, financial or otherwise, asked of a majority of Americans, despite the apocalyptic rhetoric our President feeds the country daily. The cost of war will be borne by future generations in the Administration’s massive deficits, as the cost of the war shoots well beyond the early estimates to almost $1 trillion.
What is the response to all this? In Iraq, it is Operation Swarmer, a glorified PR stunt that sent the largest air assault since 2003 into the field with no greater purpose than impressing reporters—there were no shots fired or leaders captured. At home, the President has announced that troops will be deployed in Iraq past the end of his presidency in 2008, shrugging his shoulders at the problem of what to do with Iraq.
In the end, it is the moral imperative of our country to solve this problem. The President—and the entire nation—cannot afford to be disengaged from the realities of Iraq. Whether the United States decides to commit further resources and troops to containing a civil war, or we empower Iraqis to develop a new political status quo that will allow us to withdraw our soldiers sooner, we cannot afford to let this situation stagnate while troops die and the civil war grows.