Call their bluff: withdraw the troops now

I’m still digesting the debacle from last night, but I ran across a little essay that is counterintuitive, but exactly right. Now that the Democrats have control of Congress, the shrewdest move the President can make is to withdraw all the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and withdraw them now.

I wrote not too long ago that I now support our action in Iraq after quite a lot of doubts over the past few years. I still do. But, stepping outside the box, so to speak:

  • If funding dries up, which it will, will we eventually have any other choice? Do we want a long, slow ebbing of force that cries out impotence to our foes? And what would leaving them floundering do to troop morale?
  • The power vacuum that would result from our withdrawal would be very likely to prove conservatives right about the situation in Iraq. Civil war will ensue, and democratic government will not result. Either Iraq will fragment, or another strongman will take control. Either way, we’ll be vindicated.

I’d love to remain idealistic and say, “stay the course.” But, being pragmatic–having a weakened military and a strong Democratic regime in Congress is not going to help our longterm goal of fixing the problems in our culture–I say, bring them home. Bring them home now.

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13 Responses to “Call their bluff: withdraw the troops now”


  1. 1 J November 8, 2006 at 12:00 pm

    Don’t worry. The Dems are the masters of the circular firing squad. As offensive as the right’s social agenda is to most independents, they’ll be back in the republican corner by ’08, thanks mainly to the antics about to be perpetrated by the liberal leaders in the House. The left’s social stance is even more vile, and it’s their strong suit.

  2. 2 Edmund C. November 8, 2006 at 12:09 pm

    Heh. I agree, even as someone who would love to have the “right’s social agenda” succeed. But, I’d like to hasten the Democrats’ inevitable disintegration (which I’m beginning to think happens to any American political party after a few years in power), and to watch them fiddle while the Middle East burns would be a sure way to do it.

  3. 3 Bekah November 8, 2006 at 2:05 pm

    No, withdrawing the troops is not ‘calling their bluff’. Calling their bluff would be staying the course and waiting for them to institute their ideological rhetoric on their own. I believe the Democrats do not actually have the will to do this and when push comes to shove, they will cave and ultimately put the best interests of our nation ahead of politics. They’ve already won the politics. I think they’re shrewd enough to realize that they need to maintain an independent nation otherwise they will have nothing left to control.

    I do not believe we should allow winning an argument jeopardize the actual well-being of the country. It’s just not that important. While I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe the initial invasion was ill-advised. But to quit would have world-wide ramifications that will not be easily overcome, and which may give too much ground to a religion hell-bent on theocratic domination.

  4. 4 Edmund C. November 8, 2006 at 2:13 pm

    If the Democrats do not withdraw funding, then staying the course might be an acceptable option. But, if they do, or seriously restrict it, then I think withdrawal is the only choice.

    I wonder, though, if withdrawal would actually be all that much of a disaster. Civil war in Iraq would be the immediate consequence, but in the end, I suspect that the end result would be more stability in the region. By trying to hold together a nation that is coming apart at the seams through military might, we may just be postponing the inevitable. Iraq as a nation existed almost exclusively due to the autocratic rule of Saddam, not because of any sense of overarching loyalty to the nation over ethnic groups.

    In the end, I’m not willing to sacrifice the domestic wellbeing of our nation for foreign policy victory. I remain unconvinced that our military action in the Middle East actually keeps us safer at home…

  5. 5 Bekah November 8, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    I believe the message the withdrawing in this manner would send Islam is that America is weak and ripe for the plucking. But, perhaps we are. Perhaps we deserve it. Jimmy Akin today writes about the difference between a high context culture (Rome in his article) and a low context one (us). The same could easily be said of Islam. They see the big picture, influenced by history. Apparently our citizenry do not. Because we do not, perhaps it is inevitable that we will fall to their culture. I have no doubt that that is what they seek.

    If our inherent weakness is true, than what is our best strategy?

    Maybe instead of framing this as calling the Democrats bluff, a withdrawal is calling the bluff of the populace.

    I think we need to undergo a campaign of widespread education on the nature of our enemy. Apparently the lesson has been missed. It is possible the first lesson may be withdrawal and it’s immediate consequences. Following that, Bush needs to make the best use of his remaining two years as possible. He should embark on a thorough tour of the country speaking candidly on the history of Islam and it’s desire for world domination. He should make this such a prevalent talking point that the media will have no choice but to report on it, otherwise they will find themselves stating only, “The President appeared in Kalamazoo today.” We should begin a program of rebuilding the military in advance of invasion, especially by enacting significant border protection. An invasion will not likely come through traditional channels.

    In the long-term, we need to completely revamp our country’s educational philosophies. We have become so Amero-centric in our history/social studies, that we have absolutely no context for the foundations of this struggle. As a whole, we don’t know how, or why, Islam came to control the Middle East…the Promised Land. We have little knowledge of the reasons behind the crusades and the implications that has for this war. Our low context culture has left us dumb, and with little to no motivation to act decisively and determinedly in protection of our way of life.

    In the end, I am torn, because I lack confidence that the American way of life as it is today deserves protecting. Without a doubt, however, it is preferable to living in an Islamic theocracy.

  6. 6 J November 8, 2006 at 2:38 pm

    “I remain unconvinced that our military action in the Middle East actually keeps us safer at home…”

    Almost certainly the opposite. At this point there’s no overcoming the mistakes already made in Iraq. Past time to get out.

    We’ll be out of Iraq in four years or we’ll have all new politicians in the Congress shortly thereafter. If we were in the process of subduing the menace, or openly protecting our economic interests, that would perhaps be another story. We’re on a fool’s errand however. We’ve given the Iranians a gift they couldn’t acquire on their own in eight years and at a cost of over a million men; a shia Iraq, albeit a democratic one. ‘Atta boys, neo-cons.

    The Bush presidency has been an unqualified disaster for the US. Apart from restoring some balance to the Supreme Court, they’ve done only harm. They’ve wrought untold fiscal (with the help of a Republican congress)and foreign policy damage on us and we’ll be living with it for generations.

  7. 7 CMinor November 9, 2006 at 11:22 am

    Ed–I hope you’re feeling more cheerful by now. While it’s enormously tempting to say “okay, this is what you wanted, have it your way,” I think the eventual human cost would be too high. I propose an alternative.

    Were I Prez right now, I would choose a few nonnegotiables to defend at any cost, of which the first would be the war. (The others would be life issues and major political and social engineering exercises that would be too hard to get rid of when the voting public returned to sanity.) I wouldn’t make much effort to fight Congress on the less vital stuff–let’em let the tax cuts expire, have their minimum wage hike, continue to gut Social Security. (We don’t expect to ever see a Social Security check, anyway–in fact, when our grown children picked up their first part-time jobs and wondered about that FICA thing on their check stubs, we told them they could just kiss that money goodbye.) When the economy starts to tank and unemployment skyrockets, it’ll take some serious self-delusion to pretend we didn’t ask for it, or to pin it on Bush.

    With any luck at all, things at home will be in such a state by the ’08 election that our coddled ADHD populace will again decide it’s “time for a change in Congress.” As Bush has no heir apparent (excepting possibly Dr. Rice, who has had nothing to do with domestic policy) the Presidency should be wide open.

    J, Re:

    The Bush presidency has been an unqualified disaster for the US. Apart from restoring some balance to the Supreme Court, they’ve done only harm. They’ve wrought untold fiscal (with the help of a Republican congress)and foreign policy damage on us and we’ll be living with it for generations.

    I beg to differ. The economy is fundamentally sound, tax revenues have been up despite (or because of) the “tax cuts for the rich” and unemployment is more or less frictional. Yeah, we’ve had some boondoggles imposed on us and yeah, there’s still a deficit–but do you seriously think big tax and minimum wage hikes are going to solve that? As for the “foreign policy damage” that has been done to us, I believe that’s been much overstated. I lived out of country for several years during the past admin, and never got the impression we were especially popular then, either. Bush, if anything, is an excuse, not a cause. If, however, we abandon Iraq and Afghanistan, no one will ever trust us on their side again.

  8. 8 CMinor November 9, 2006 at 11:31 am

    Correction:
    Darn–just checked and those tax cuts don’t expire until 2010. So I guess the Dem Congress will actually have to do something to raise taxes, instead of just letting them lapse.

  9. 9 J November 9, 2006 at 12:19 pm

    CMinor – “If, however, we abandon Iraq and Afghanistan, no one will ever trust us on their side again.”

    And yet it’s inevitable (that we will abandon Iraq and Afghanistan), and was from the beginning. What wasn’t inevitable was that we’d leave them in worse shape than we found them. That’s on Bush alone at this point. Avarice and stupidity are a huge part of the human condition. There will always be lackeys to do our bidding abroad. And we’ll continue to elect miscreants to govern us.

    Our influence in the middle east is waning and that’s happened on Bush’s watch, largely due to his lack of an accurate vision of what the world is really like, and thus his failed foreign policy. When you’re flying high as a pig-headed bully, there’s nowhere to go but down, as the Republicans in congress just found out. The same is proving true for the world’s lone super power, and much faster than could have reasonably been expected. We elect idiots at our peril. Unfortunately we weren’t given any decent alternatives (Gore and Kerry) and thus the Dems bear some responsibility for the mess we’re in.

    The Republican’s spending binge was financed with loans from the Chinese instead of taxes. Is that a good thing? The latest Medicare debacle, signed by Bush, was crafted by and for the drug companies and will expedite the entitlement train wreck real conservatives elected Republicans to head off. Independents tended to overlook the right’s social agenda and vote Republican because of lower taxes, smaller government, and peace through strength approach to foreign policy. Bush has given moderate and libertarian-leaning independents no reason to support the GOP. We saw the results last Tuesday.

  10. 10 Edmund C. November 9, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    C and J,

    A couple of points then I have to get some work done…

    1. On the economy: I tend to sit somewhere between the two of you. While I think the whole idea of deficit spending is going to come back to haunt us one day, the economic numbers (unemployment, tax revenues, etc) do look pretty good. I’m like you, C: I don’t ever expect to see a Social Security benefit. But, I’m firmly against entitlement programs on the whole: the old system of charity and family support worked just fine and doesn’t bring the government into the picture. On economic issues, I lean quite libertarian.

    2. On the war and foreign policy: the main issue here is not whether we mess around in the Middle East, nor whether we are respected or not. I tend to agree with C: when I lived in England way back in the latter years of the Clinton administration, there was no love lost for American foreign policy. Bush simply proves an inarticulate, bumbling face to put on a larger problem, which is that we really do need to look at our relationship with the wider world. Do we acquiesce to pressure to appease radical Islam? On the other hand, do we realize how corrosive our materialist, consumerist culture is, to us and others?

    Also, is Western democracy the answer in the Islamic world? I think not. It is a totally foreign concept, and one that particularly will not work in nations that were originally cobbled together by colonial powers. For that matter, our elections prove, in my mind, that it doesn’t work much better here.

    It’s for that reason that I am amenable to withdrawal from Iraq. I just don’t see a positive outcome to this war, regardless of whether we can claim “victory”. I especially don’t see anything good coming out of continuing to prosecute a war when Congress has cut off much of its funding.

  11. 11 J November 9, 2006 at 5:54 pm

    Ed – “On the other hand, do we realize how corrosive our materialist, consumerist culture is, to us and others?” Amen. If only desire could be satisfied by acquiring the things desired. Doesn’t work that way though.

    I believe you’ll get a check. Working people will be paying half again the FICA penalty and Spanish will be the national tongue, but the entitlement system will still be there. Damn Roosevelt and all the professional politicians since.

    Interesting post. I enjoyed the dialogue with you and CMinor and I respect both your points of view.

  12. 12 Edmund C. November 9, 2006 at 7:59 pm

    Damn Roosevelt and all the professional politicians since.

    I wouldn’t damn them (against my beliefs ;-)), but I agree with the basic sentiment, especially the part about “professional politicians.” The problem as I see it is that our politicians (well, most of them) exist purely to get reelected and maintain their own power. Their talk about “service” to the people and to the state is mostly lip-service designed explicitly to get the poor dopes who don’t know any better to vote for them.

    That’s why my perfect nation is a hereditary monarchy (there’s a greater chance of a truly good ruler coming by the lottery of heredity than in our current system), or at the least a return to an America where the public is actually educated about the issues of the day and knows a good man running for office when it sees one. I don’t know that we’ve had a good leader since maybe Teddy Roosevelt, and when I’m in a less cynical mood, Reagan.

  13. 13 J November 9, 2006 at 8:17 pm

    Ed – I wouldn’t want to live in a monarchy unless I was king. Anyway, we agree about the state of the political system. Thomas Sowell has some thoughts on the subject that I tend to agree with but could never express so eloquently. Peace.


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