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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

Peggy Noonan (Regan era speech writer) penned a good op-ed piece which, among other things, mentioned John McCain's speech to VMI.

http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB117649375146969423-wA6m7jOvFa_1Km...

A lot of folks are asking why we should continue to fight in Iraq and McCain lays out his thoughts in a well written speech. I found the text here:

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2007/04/remarks_as_prepared_fo...

Its a good read, one of his best points is quoted below:

Quote:
If fighting these people and preventing the export of their brand of radicalism and terror is not intrinsic to the national security and most cherished values of the United States, I don't know what is.
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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

The Iraq situation is certainly a mess but we simply cannot just pull out and leave the country to collapse. Too many times we've pulled out of a country when the nightly body count went too high. We have to finish what we started if we want to keep any credibility.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

McCain's speech certainly has its merits. I agree when he says

"We all agree a military solution alone will not solve the problems of Iraq. There must be a political agreement among Iraqis that allows all groups to participate in the building of their nation, to share in its resources and to live in peace with each other. But without greater security imposed by the United States military and the Iraqi Army, there can be no political solution.

That being said, Americans simply are not willing and the US military is not capable of sustaining the sorts of troop numbers that are really needed in order to provide the secutrity of which he speaks. The troop surge is having a limited effect, in a limited area for a limited amount of time. The more open acts of violence are diminishing such as kidnappings and executions. However car bombs and IED's are indefensible , and seem to have not been affected by the surge.

Baghdad is a city of of about 7 million, so I have to doubt the effectiveness of an escalation of just 20,000 troops, Sadr City alone is about 2 million. I would guess it would take around 500,000 boots on the ground for at least a couple of generations to make the sorts of changes to Iraqi society and their ideologies that would allow them to to reconcile their differences. These cleavages in Iraqi society have existed for a very long time, changing the hearts and minds of Iraqis won't happen overnight.

I have watched my fellow Marines die with their face in the dirt in Iraq, and I lost part of my humanity there. I would hate to think it was all in vain. But if we aren't going to do it right, why waste more lives half as*ing it? Unless we make a committment that outlasts our 2,4 and 6 year election cycles and that rises above party politics, the effort is doomed to fail.

As far as preventing the export of terrorism, I don't see where we are stopping it at present. If you have ever been there, then you know how vast the country is in Anbar province. And you also know that there are many areas in Anbar where Al Qaeda operates uncontested, due to the remoteness of the location and the lack of boots on the ground. The same goes for the terrorist in Afghanistan. If they were set on brining the fight here, they certainly could if all that is needed is a lack of a US presence. That isn't to say that we should stop pursuing them. All I am saying is that it isn't as if we have them on the run all over Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is just my opinion, you are certainly free to disagree.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

I still believe that the long term solution to destroying radical Islam (and thus removing the terrorist threat) is building popular, secular democracies in Iraq and other middle eastern countries. How to get to this reality is the big question....

My main concern with Iraq is leaving it in a condition that will allow an Iraqi Revolution much in the form of the Iranian Revolution. I get very concerned when I see religion in tandem with government, I think it lends state legitimacy to radicalism.

Furthermore it appears that sunni and shia relations are at a boiling point. A Shia Iraqi revolution would most likely destabilize the middle east to the point of regional war. I don't claim to be an expert on these matters, but from what I read it seems that Sunni dominated Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and others are highly distrustful of Iran and would fight against an Shite power grab in Iraq. Even now there is evidence Iran's nuclear ambitions, real or hoax, will spark nuclear arms race in the middle east.

What do you think the best solution is Solo?

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.
SoloHunter wrote:
McCain's speech certainly has its merits. I agree when he says

"We all agree a military solution alone will not solve the problems of Iraq. There must be a political agreement among Iraqis that allows all groups to participate in the building of their nation, to share in its resources and to live in peace with each other. But without greater security imposed by the United States military and the Iraqi Army, there can be no political solution.

That being said, Americans simply are not willing and the US military is not capable of sustaining the sorts of troop numbers that are really needed in order to provide the secutrity of which he speaks. The troop surge is having a limited effect, in a limited area for a limited amount of time. The more open acts of violence are diminishing such as kidnappings and executions. However car bombs and IED's are indefensible , and seem to have not been affected by the surge.

Baghdad is a city of of about 7 million, so I have to doubt the effectiveness of an escalation of just 20,000 troops, Sadr City alone is about 2 million. I would guess it would take around 500,000 boots on the ground for at least a couple of generations to make the sorts of changes to Iraqi society and their ideologies that would allow them to to reconcile their differences. These cleavages in Iraqi society have existed for a very long time, changing the hearts and minds of Iraqis won't happen overnight.

I have watched my fellow Marines die with their face in the dirt in Iraq, and I lost part of my humanity there. I would hate to think it was all in vain. But if we aren't going to do it right, why waste more lives half as*ing it? Unless we make a committment that outlasts our 2,4 and 6 year election cycles and that rises above party politics, the effort is doomed to fail.

As far as preventing the export of terrorism, I don't see where we are stopping it at present. If you have ever been there, then you know how vast the country is in Anbar province. And you also know that there are many areas in Anbar where Al Qaeda operates uncontested, due to the remoteness of the location and the lack of boots on the ground. The same goes for the terrorist in Afghanistan. If they were set on brining the fight here, they certainly could if all that is needed is a lack of a US presence. That isn't to say that we should stop pursuing them. All I am saying is that it isn't as if we have them on the run all over Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is just my opinion, you are certainly free to disagree.

Just wanted to say good post!

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

I think a good place to start is by jump starting thier economy. I feel a lot of Iraqis get involved with the insurgency b/c of lack of employment. There is a lot of money filtering into the insurgency by way of Al Qaeda, Iran and Sunni countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan. If you can't find a job to feed your family and someone offers you money to get involved with the insurgency as a fighter or otherwise, the choice is simple, you feed your family. So make the insurgency irrelevant in that aspect and find employment for these people.

However you cannot have a healthy growing economy without security. To that end, we should put more boots on the ground. The problem is where are they gonna come from? Should we start a draft? I don't know. All I know is I did my part, and our guys are doing multiple tours of up to 16 months. Is that fair? I don't think so. I don't think Americans would feel to great about a draft in order to put half a million boots on the ground. But that's what it would take to secure Iraq, if it were possible, and I don't know that it is.

Iraq's past, Arab history, Sunni-Shia attitudes, mistakes already made and the nature of transitioning from minority authoritarian rule to parliamentary democracy are all big obstacles in and of themselves. Overcoming all of these simultaneously seems impossible. Even if America cannot solve Iraq's problems, we owe it to the Iraqi population to do the best we can. And that's just the thing we aren't doing the best we can. And even if our best isn't enough, at least we igave it an honest go.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

Like most economies in the middle east, Iraq's was one dimensional.

Pumping up oil output to at least prewar levels would be good for all involved but insurgents have made it a target to keep oil output low. So what you propose as a solution is more a less a chicken and egg problem. No real economy until the oil flows, yet no oil until the insurgents are suppressed. Yet the insurgents can't be fought by boosting the economy because its in their interest to suppress oil output.

Iraq like most middle east nations is a basket case. Between monarchies, fanaticism, and theocracies its a tough row to hoe for any fledgling democracy.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

I agree with your chicken and egg analogy. I wasn't offering a solution, I cannot even pretend to know how to solve this paradox. To be honest, I just don't see the President doing what needs to be done in terms of troops numbers to really make a substantial difference. Even if he did, the military couldn't support the mission in terms of numbers. That notwithstanding, we couldn't even be sure if a reasonably secure environment would be enough for Iraqis to reconcile their differences anyway.

We didn't create the problems that exist between Iraqis. We did however allow these problems to fully express themselves by creating a power vacuum and not initially planning for the worst case scenario, which is what we have today.

So part of me thinks we gave them liberty and they chose violence, chaos and division over peace, security and unity. How is it that we give them free will to decide their future and are then unwilling to accept their answer? But like I said too, Al Qaeda is inciting the civil war in large part and we are to blame for their presence in Iraq. These are difficult questions.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

Just to be sure, I'm confident we could get the Iraqis to submit to their elected government and end the lawlessness if we were as brutal as their insurgents. Heavy sustained (i.e. months) bombardment would eventually bring them to their knees. We are a super power after all, and what we lack in troop numbers could be decisively made up with superior artillery, naval, and air support. Sometimes, I wonder if the insurgents understand this certainty, and a part of me thinks we should teach them.

Of course this is neither practical nor moral because of certain high civilian causalities. Isn't it nice that our soldiers and our nation plays the moral high ground against butchers and yet somehow we are portrayed as "losers"?

I concur that you could look at Iraq as they chose the path they are on after being liberated, and in some very important cases this is true. However, I like to believe that the instigators are a small but powerful minority (on both sides of the equation, sunni and shia) and the rest of them are being held at the knife by this barbaric group. I feel this group is very dangerous and will continue to cause problems in Iraq and abroad if they are not handed defeat.

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McCain: Why we should fight in Iraq.

Well there really is no question as to whether or not we are the superior force. But insurgency is ultimately a political crisis. There is only so much military solution to this problem. If we went in and layed seige to every insurgent stronghold, I would think that the high loss of civilian life and the resentment created by it, would outweigh any gains made by killing the insurgents if we just created more insurgents in the process. At any rate, seizing territory is a world apart from holding territory. Bottom line is that we need more tropps to hold the ground we seize. Seizing it isn't really a problem.

Quote:
I'm confident we could get the Iraqis to submit to their elected government and end the lawlessness if we were as brutal as their insurgents.

Don't forget that many of the elected officials are the political representatives of militant factions in Iraq. They are part of the problem too. Perhaps the social, cultural and historical dynamics of Iraq just aren't conducive to parliamentary democracy.

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