The Consequences of Withdrawal from Iraq
For every American killed, there are numerous Iraqis suffering the same pain, whether it is from malnutrition, terrorist attacks, or sectarian violence. Rightly so, the American people are asking for an alternative to the daily images on their TV screens of chaos and bombardment. However, our search for an end to the suffering must be responsible, and must not lead to more suffering and pain for us to suffer shortly thereafter. While the ideas and passion behind those calling for a withdrawal from Iraq are noble, we must not give in to their vision that a loss in Iraq would bring peace and security to those of us at home. This is not an issue of Democrat or Republican, and is certainly not an issue over whether we should have invaded Iraq in the first place. The most anti-war citizen must face the reality that we are in Iraq, and that mistake can not be erased by simply leaving. The following is a list of consequences that any advocate of a withdrawal must consider:
There are 25 million Iraqis engaged in the battlefield of Iraq, and hundreds of millions of Arabs and other Muslims whose fate will be decided by Iraq and the region’s future. There can be no more selfish act than to deny the Iraqis, who have fought and died along our side, the security, freedom and optimistic future for their families which we so cherish.
Withdrawal would mean watching by as millions of Iraqis were slaughtered by terrorists, insurgents, militias, and neighboring states as each struggles to take the spoils. We would also have to watch as hundreds of thousands of children die from treatable diseases, as any humanitarian effort would fail due to the violence.
Advocates of withdrawal also must be willing to sacrifice the potential for freedom-loving people in the region. Democratic success in Iraq threatens nearby tyrannies and empowers those fighting them. Women who aren’t allowed to drive and are persecuted for showing skin, young girls who are stoned for being raped, homosexuals who are hung for their relationships, student activists who are tortured in jail for criticizing their leader must be looked in the face and be told, “The Americans didn’t feel your plight was a high enough priority. We wish you success in the future, but this superpower won’t be around to help you.”
Senator John McCain, a former POW in Vietnam, said it best this week when he stated that “the only thing worse than a stressed military, is a broken and defeated military.” Withdrawal would mean the complete collapse of morale in the military and a reluctance to support a responsible military budget. Failing to support and fund our military leaves our troops without the armor they need and our political leaders without the option of force in dealing with foreign enemies.
Advocates of a withdrawal think it will end the war, but it will not. The disastrous security situation in Iraq will lead to a terrorist sanctuary that the United States will then have to confront. Our uniformed men and women who came home the first time will have to enter again under much harsher and costlier conditions.
Consequences in Iraq
Withdrawal would lead to a collapse of the elected Iraqi government, who all would then have to flee outside the region or be executed by terrorists. All the work done to bring about elections and representation for all the people of Iraq would vanish.
In southern Iraq, the “Islamization” process would move full throttle, stripping away individual rights, particularly that of women. As Islamic extremist rule increases, and Iran grows more powerful, a radical Shiite state will be created that will oppress not only its own citizens, but seek to oppress others.
Sectarian violence will spiral out of control, killing millions of Iraqis, both Sunni and Shia. Even more will be forced to flee their homes as radical militias seek to create homogenous regions. Shiite terrorist groups like Hezbollah will likely find safe haven and support.
Sunni territory will become home to an assortment of terrorist organizations that will use it as a base to fund and plan attacks on the United States and nearby moderate Muslim nations. Al-Qaeda, who will certainly not hesitate to attack us again, will have access to safe harbor, recruits, and oil revenue.
The Kurds of northern Iraq will likely declare independence, but will probably see a tremendous amount of violence and despair. Turkey will invade northern Iraq to stop the emergence of a Kurdish state, leading to yet another war. Iran will almost certainly join in.
Consequences in the Middle East
The voices of those who want freedom and justice will be silenced. While the movement for democratic change will continue, its prospects for victory will diminish and come at a much higher cost. The Middle Eastern countries, faced with the threat of Iranian interference, will probably increase the oppression of its dissidents in order to stifle any attempt at foreign subversion.
Iran, the #1 sponsor of terrorism and home to several Al-Qaeda leaders, will grow in power and become the leader of the region. It will become easier for Iran’s government, who denies the holocaust has ever happened and has repeatedly cited the destruction of Israel and the United States as its goal, to obtain nuclear weapons. The West will find its options to deter isolate and affect Iran’s behavior very limited.
In response to the growth of Iran’s power, countries in the region like Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and the states in the Gulf will obtain nuclear weapons. Iran’s leadership has expressed willingness to share its nuclear technology with other rogue states like Syria and Venezuela.
Saudi Arabia will increase its support to Sunni jihadists and Wahhabists (which spawned Osama Bin Laden) in order to counter Iran’s influence. There may very well be a bloody civil war inside Saudi Arabia, causing oil prices to hit a new spike and possibly bringing the American economy into a deep recession.
The growth in power of terrorist elements will lead to a complete breakdown in the Middle East Peace Process, and renewed fighting between Israeli and militant Palestinian groups. Israel will have to take an even more hawkish stance towards Iran, quite possibly leading to a nuclear showdown.
One of the problems the United States has had among Iraqis is that they don’t believe we will stay to protect them, so they sit on the sidelines and won’t stand up to the terrorists. A premature withdrawal would forever eliminate any goodwill and trust between America and the people of the Middle East, instead replaced by bitterness and hatred as its people watch their family members die due to American selfishness. Any hope of having a foreign ally would diminish, as no one would trust the United States to stand by them in tough times.
Consequences in Africa
The subsequent nuclear arms race may force Libya to re-start its nuclear program, having no longer to fear U.S. action but having to fear its nuclear-armed neighbors. Insurgency in North Africa would expand, as Iran would likely increase support to organizations like the GIA in Algeria, furthering the civil war there.
The United States would not have the willpower to stop the genocide in Sudan. The Sudanese government, an ally of Iran (and previously of Saddam Hussein), may find hope in America’s withdrawal and increase, or at least stay focused on, their brutal activities in Darfur.
Consequences in the War on Terror
Terrorists worldwide will be emboldened. The American withdrawal from Somalia helped motivate Osama Bin Laden into thinking that he could attack us in the 1990s. An American withdrawal from the much greater and more important conflict in Iraq would surely inspire a new generation of terrorists. Additionally, terrorists could go to Iraq to find training, money, weapons and safe harbor. These recruits would then go on to attack targets throughout the world, including Western Europe and the United States.
Rogue states, finding themselves strengthened, would be convinced that terrorists and insurgents are the way to defeat and deter America. An immediate withdrawal would cause these nations to increase their sponsorship of terrorist organizations.
Consequences in Latin America
Venezuela’s missile and inevitable nuclear cooperation with Iran would continue. The weakness of the United States would encourage the rise of an anti-American bloc in South America, led by Cuba and Venezuela that would ally itself with Iran, China and Russia.
Consequences in Asia
American forces would be less able to block the shipment of drugs, banned goods, and WMD technology from North Korea to the Middle East. This increased revenue would help shore up North Korea’s oppressive regime, and allow them to arm our enemies.
China’s rise in power would become inevitable and accelerated, as our Asian allies doubted our commitments, and would decide on appeasement and entering China’s sphere of influence, rather than relying upon America.
The new dynamics in Asia, with allies of America questioning our strength, would result in a nuclear arms race. Japan would have no option but to develop nuclear weapons (although she may do so regardless). Two scenarios would arise: China would dominate the Pacific and America’s status as a superpower would quickly recede, or there would be a region wide nuclear stalemate involving Burma, China, India, Pakistan, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, and possibly Taiwan and Australia.
The consequences of a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq are not limited to Iraqi territory, or even to the region. They are felt worldwide, in every conflicted nation and every oppressed people. Some of the scenarios above may come to pass regardless of a withdrawal, but a withdrawal would guarantee these outcomes, and certainly exasperate them. The most immediate consequence would obviously be a base for terrorists in Iraq, who would find access to the oil revenue they previously never possessed in Afghanistan. The terrorists who attacked us on September 11, 2001 would find themselves in possession of even greater resources, and would be free to finance as they wish, arm as they wish, and build any kind of weapon they wish, in order to kill innocent Americans. Withdrawing from Iraq would not end the war, it would prolong it. Some ignorant Americans argue we aren’t at war, but I’d ask such Americans to take a visit to Ground Zero, or talk to our Iraqi allies, or read any of Osama Bin Laden’s statements.
Everyone wants to live in a safer, more secure world and for that reason, advocates of an immediate withdrawal from Iraq must reconsider the consequences of such an action. No compassionate American wants a soldier away from his or her family, but short-sighted, emotion-based reactions such as is being proposed would only guarantee such a scenario. The time is tough, and the President is responsible for the mistakes we have made in Iraq. Every such mistake he has made, though, would pale in comparison to the mistake of ceding victory and the future of the world to the terrorists we came to know on September 11, 2001.
Ryan Mauro is WSN Editor USA.