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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Time for an Honorable Exit

By Carlton Huffman

5 years and 4,000 American deaths later the Iraq War continues to rage just as fiercely as the debate over the meaning of the war and America’s future in the Middle East. On the surface it would seem that this conflict has not scarred America to the degree that Vietnam did. There are no mass demonstrations in the streets, no campus violence, and a casualty figure that is but a fraction of the 58,000 souls that gave their lives in Southeast Asia. Upon closer inspection however it appears that Iraq will go down as an even greater mistake then Vietnam ever turned out to be.

The United States managed to recover from the loss of Vietnam and emerge victorious in the Cold War against the Soviet Union and stand as the sole superpower in the world. The conflict with Iraq is not yet concluded and the days of America as a lone superpower are finished. Uncle Sam is a sick giant that can hardly produce the means of war as America has lost 3.5 million manufacturing jobs since January 2001. The same arsenal of Democracy that saved the world in 1945 must buy mere bullets from Israel and Taiwan as our own industry doesn’t have the capacity to meet the needs of the war. America is also immersed in red ink as we now rely on Chinese and Arab credit to finance not just the war but the very day to day operations of government. America’s secret is out and the emperor is looking mighty embarrassed without his clothes. A superpower that can’t equip its troops or pay for its own war is not a superpower my friends.

It must be said with all due respect to Senator McCain and all of those who state the surge is working that they are looking through sugar coated lenses. Yes the attacks on American soldiers are down as of late, but 2007 was the deadliest year for American troops of any since the March 2003 invasion. The Shiite militia of radical cleric and Iranian ally Muqtada Al Sadr has not been vanquished, but has merely gone to ground during the tenure of the surge and will be certain to reemerge as American troop levels go down. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been shredded which is welcome news but the Iraqis are no closer towards political reconciliation then they were when General Petraeus first hit the ground running. A stable and functioning Iraq is likely to cost hundreds of billions of more dollars and still more years of American soldiers fighting and dying for a nation that is no more likely to love us at the end of the day then Duke is to love Chapel Hill.

I state it as a caveat that I supported the invasion of Iraq and was against an immediate withdraw as the insurgency began in 2003-2004. The logic of staying seemed to justify the sacrifice but as time went on the facts started telling a different story, and as Ben Franklin said “facts are stubborn things.” Despite all the hailed signs of progress there was only one constant fact, more and more Americans were being killed while the number of attacks kept going up. Short of total scorched earth warfare there is no other way that the American military can bring peace to Iraq. Ron Paul was right, the time is now for America to begin an honorable exit from Iraq and to turn the effort over to the Iraqis by bringing our troops home.

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