Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why We Should Exit Iraq ASAP

On March 19, 2003, the United States invaded Iraq, with 94% of the American public in full support of the mission. Three weeks after that, on April 11, 2003, I personally attended a lecture by 1972 presidential candidate, George McGovern. His talk was titled, “The Wrong War, In the Wrong Place, At the Wrong Time.” In two hours of speaking time, McGovern predicted, with near-perfect accuracy, everything that would unfold in Iraq over the next few years. The insurgency, the sectarian violence that would escalate into a civil war, the ineffectiveness of the elected leaders in Iraq, the utter incompetence of the U.S. commander-in-chief and the Secretary of Defense, the loss of public image in the eyes of the world, the outrageous cost, and even the inadequacy of the poorly-armored vehicles that would cost so many American lives- all this was laid out by McGovern. And this was in front of an audience that, like the greater American public, disagreed with his message by a margin of 94% to 6%. He was right that day, and we were wrong.

Based on that experience, I now listen when George McGovern speaks. At a private reception this last August, during the DNCC in Denver, I again heard McGovern talk, and this time he put forth his plan for leaving Iraq. He said simply, “Load the troops on trucks and drive toward the nearest border.” I believe that’s how it could be done, and I firmly believe that’s how it will be done. As things stand right now, both Iraq and the United States of America are disintegrating, and the one is causing the other. Iraq has made a trillion dollars of American wealth evaporate just as surely as if it was piled up in paper currency and set afire in an all-consuming blaze. The loss of that national wealth has been felt in ripples through the economy, and been accelerated by bad real estate loans and astronomical oil prices and the meltdown of Wall Street, but beneath the surface, it’s all tied together. This isn’t my opinion. This comes from the 2001 Nobel Laureate and former chief economist for the World Bank, Joseph Stiglitz.

The Iraq War will probably end sooner rather than later, especially now with Barack Obama as the next president. We need not wait for a totally stable Iraq, because when the choice is one of possible disintegration in Iraq or continued disintegration right here in America, we must choose to let Iraq disintegrate. When Americans realize that their economic pain and their agony over the war are both symptoms of the same disease they will demand an end to it. It's like cutting off a limb infected with gangrene to save the rest of the body.

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