NYT: Withdraw Now!

In an editorial this morning the New York Times urges an immediate withdrawal of our forces from Iraq, moving them temporarily to Iraqi Kurdistan and from there home. Here’s the meat of their argument:

Continuing to sacrifice the lives and limbs of American soldiers is wrong. The war is sapping the strength of the nation’s alliances and its military forces. It is a dangerous diversion from the life-and-death struggle against terrorists. It is an increasing burden on American taxpayers, and it is a betrayal of a world that needs the wise application of American power and principles.

No reduction in forces. No remnant for training. That would be too dangerous:

The United States could strike an agreement with the Kurds to create those bases in northeastern Iraq. Or, the Pentagon could use its bases in countries like Kuwait and Qatar, and its large naval presence in the Persian Gulf, as staging points.

There are arguments for, and against, both options. Leaving troops in Iraq might make it too easy — and too tempting — to get drawn back into the civil war and confirm suspicions that Washington’s real goal was to secure permanent bases in Iraq. Mounting attacks from other countries could endanger those nations’ governments.

The Times acknowledges the hazards of this course of action:

One of the trickiest tasks will be avoiding excessive meddling in Iraq by its neighbors — America’s friends as well as its adversaries.

Just as Iran should come under international pressure to allow Shiites in southern Iraq to develop their own independent future, Washington must help persuade Sunni powers like Syria not to intervene on behalf of Sunni Iraqis. Turkey must be kept from sending troops into Kurdish territories.

For this effort to have any remote chance, Mr. Bush must drop his resistance to talking with both Iran and Syria. Britain, France, Russia, China and other nations with influence have a responsibility to help. Civil war in Iraq is a threat to everyone, especially if it spills across Iraq’s borders.

The primary question I have is this: having abandoned our primary leverage against the situation deteriorating further and spreading to other countries—the presence of American troops in Iraq—what means do they suggest employing to mitigate the consequences of what they’re advocating?

Update

Natan Sharansky provides the rebuttal argument in the Washington Post:

A precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces could lead to a bloodbath that would make the current carnage pale by comparison. Without U.S. troops in place to quell some of the violence, Iranian-backed Shiite militias would dramatically increase their attacks on Sunnis; Sunni militias, backed by the Saudis or others, would retaliate in kind, drawing more and more of Iraq into a vicious cycle of violence. If Iraq descended into full-blown civil war, the chaos could trigger similar clashes throughout the region as Sunni-Shiite tensions spill across Iraq’s borders. The death toll and the displacement of civilians could climb exponentially.

Perhaps the greatest irony of the political debate over Iraq is that many of Bush’s critics, who accused his administration of going blindly to war without considering what would happen once Hussein’s regime was toppled, now blindly support a policy of withdrawing from Iraq without considering what might follow.

In this respect, the debate over Iraq is beginning to look a lot like the debate about the Vietnam War in the 1960s and ’70s. Then, too, the argument in the United States focused primarily on whether U.S. forces should pull out. But many who supported that withdrawal in the name of human rights did not foresee the calamity that followed, which included genocide in Cambodia, tens of thousands slaughtered in Vietnam by the North Vietnamese and the tragedy of hundreds of thousands of “boat people.”

In the final analysis, U.S. leaders will pursue a course in Iraq that they believe best serves U.S. interests. My hope is that as they do, they will make the human rights dimension a central part of any decision. The consequences of not doing so might prove catastrophic to Iraqis, to regional peace and, ultimately, to U.S. security.

FILED UNDER: Iraq War, , , , , , , ,
Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    The NYT sounds desperate for our withdrawal before something good happens in Iraq. Recent reports are that statements out of AQ sound a lot like they to are desperate for survival in the face of the surge. But the MSM are suspiciously silent about the surge successes in Anbar province and Baqubah. If the NYT had objective reporters in Iraq they would know of the local populace’s stories about Sharia AQ atrocities when they controlled a town and the Iraqi factions turning against AQ and fighting on our side as soon as they feel the protection of the coalition forces in their locality.

    NYT may also be desperate for the US to pull out before AQ strikes in the US as has been speculated. Should AQ have a successful attack on US soil, their, I mean the Left’s, anti-war movement will quickly become persona non grata in they eyes of the American populace.

  2. MarkT says:

    1. How long should we stay? 1 more year? Indefinitely?

    2. The military cannot handle the current rate of deployment for much longer. If we want to stay for years/decades, we are going to have to seriously build up our military. Would the US people support that?

    3. Should we continue to arm/train several different factions in the conflict as we are doing (i.e. both the Shia gov’t and Sunni insurgents)?

  3. G.A.Phillips says:

    The NYT should get out of the news paper business and buy a fleet of old cargo planes and just dropping leaflets on the masses for their liberal masters in Washington and Hollywood.

  4. MarkT says:

    Recent reports are that statements out of AQ sound a lot like they to are desperate for survival in the face of the surge

    We’ve had 4 years of reports saying “progress is being made” and “we are turning the corner”.

    Please forgive me if the ‘good’ reports you mention without citation do not immediately convince me that we are surging towards success.

  5. JKB says:

    Here read this as reported to Instapundit.

    Although I stand corrected, apparently the NYT does have reporters in Iraq but the editorial writers must not read positive stories that don’t align with their bias.

  6. JKB says:

    “Please forgive me if the ‘good’ reports you mention without citation do not immediately convince me that we are surging towards success.”

    Here see for yourself. This is just one example of how quite a few commenters interpreted Zawahiri’s July 4 video.

  7. Kathy says:

    The primary question I have is this: having abandoned our primary leverage against the situation deteriorating further and spreading to other countries—the presence of American troops in Iraq—what means do they suggest employing to mitigate the consequences of what they’re advocating?

    This is such a bizarre statement, and unfortunately, Dave Schuler is not the only one who says things like this.

    What “primary leverage,” Dave? As we all write these words, Dick Cheney and others in the Bush admin, along with admirers like John McCain and Joseph Lieberman, are actively, loudly, insistently calling for the U.S. to start another war with Iran, because, they say, Iran has become part of the terrorist activity in Iraq. Where is the leverage that prevented this, Dave? If the U.S. presence in Iraq constituted any kind of “leverage,” then how could Iran be any sort of problem at all?

    Iraq is a catastrophe beyond the power of any words to adequately describe it, and it is the U.S. invasion of, occupation of, and continuing military presence in, Iraq that has created that catastrophe. What kind of catastrophe, or “larger war,” or “further deterioration” or “spreading to other countries” is it that U.S. troops in Iraq are preventing? When the very fact that “larger war” and “further deterioration” and “spreading to other countries” are issues at all is a result of OUR presence there?

  8. kenny says:

    “Here read this as reported to Instapundit.”

    The battle for Baqubah…..

    And it was only 7 months ago that the American army in Iraq was issuing a press release titled “Iraqi Army, Coalition Forces secure Baqubah”

  9. ken says:

    What Kathy said.

    Also, it is never too late to do the right thing.

    The consequences of withdrawal will be easier to face because withdrawal is the right thing to do.

    Facing the continued carnage and deterioration in Iraq that is a direct result of US occupation is not tolerable because the war on Iraq itself was based upon lies. No good ever comes out of fighting for lies.

  10. […] Outside The Beltway, Blue Crab Boulevard Posted By: Sister Toldjah in: Media Watch, War on Terror, Iraq, Middle East […]

  11. G.A.Phillips says:

    Facing the continued carnage and deterioration in Iraq that is a direct result of US occupation is not tolerable because the war on Iraq itself was based upon lies. No good ever comes out of fighting for lies.

    Yes Ken, rage against reality.

    Kathy

    Iraq is a catastrophe beyond the power of any words to adequately describe it, and it is the U.S. invasion of, occupation of, and continuing military presence in, Iraq that has created that catastrophe. What kind of catastrophe, or “larger war,” or “further deterioration” or “spreading to other countries” is it that U.S. troops in Iraq are preventing? When the very fact that “larger war” and “further deterioration” and “spreading to other countries” are issues at all is a result of OUR presence there?

    The true catastrophe is that half our country ether knowingly or was taught to support our enemy, and will say anything to give them aid and comfort regardless of the consequences for our troops in the field or our global war effort against the terror of this religion they call Islam.

    The twisted logic of undermining this war effort for the political gain of your liberal leaders or the indoctrinated hatred for this country
    that you people use is a new type of treachery that will cause great pain to this country and the good parts of this world for decades to come.

  12. Jim Henley says:

    Dave, no disrespect to you, but Sharansky doesn’t provide shit. There’s not a word of the excerpt that we haven’t heard a hundred times before from others, usually from the President’s speechwriters or their volunteer auxiliary.

  13. ken says:

    I’ll say it again cause it bears repeating:

    The consequences of doing the right thing and ending our war on Iraq, whatever they may be, are going to be easier to handle than the consequences of continuing doing the wrong thing.

    Our best judgements, based upon American values, mandate that we end this war now.

    Our nation (with the exception of conservatives) can handle whatever the results may be from doing the right thing.

  14. JKB says:

    True, mistakes were made, in the past we would clear out a town then leave and AQ would take off their dresses or return from whence they ran. But that isn’t happening now, the troops are staying in the area. Their presence allows the Iraqi people to rebuild without AQ tearing it down. We also, have a new cost effective fighting plan. Rather than try and force AQ out of Iraq, we surround and kill all we find. Some run but their hiding places are getting fewer and fewer.

    As for the surrender, the golden opportunity is upon the Demies. The Dems in congress can just not fund further operations after September. Now I will caution, this is the real world and, in the real world, actions have consequences. Those consequences won’t be just for the people of Iraq. No, the American populace in “fly over” country don’t look kindly toward surrender. And as much as it angers the Lefties, they get to vote for President. So the Demies in congress can defund the war but any politcal who supports this might not want to set foot in Iowa or Alabama, or Kansas, or Michigan, or Tennessee, or well, anywhere Army recruits come from.

  15. daveinboca says:

    The media has been Al-Qaeda’s Fifth Column giving quislings like Mr. Elizabeth Edwards room to call the GWOT a “bumper sticker.” Meanwhile, the NYT is of more than one mind about this, with a good article by John Burns, who refuses to drink the Kool-Ade, on Anbar & rolling back AQ in the field.

    But as for WHAM, the NYT is helping AQ here in the states & the Dems are heavily invested in an American defeat, so they can blame it on Chimpy McHitlerburton & his evil VP plus those nasty Repubs……

    Too bad Talk Radio doesn’t really run the country, Trent-boy.

  16. steve says:

    Without U.S. troops in place to quell some of the violence, Iranian-backed Shiite militias would dramatically increase their attacks on Sunnis; Sunni militias, backed by the Saudis or others, would retaliate in kind, drawing more and more of Iraq into a vicious cycle of violence. If Iraq descended into full-blown civil war, the chaos could trigger similar clashes throughout the region as Sunni-Shiite tensions spill across Iraq’s borders. The death toll and the displacement of civilians could climb exponentially.

    So what? How, in the end, does our staying there advance American interests? Isn’t this the real question?

  17. […] Dave Schuler at Outside the Beltway [a conservative contributor to a centrist blog]: The primary question I have is this: having abandoned our primary leverage against the situation deteriorating further and spreading to other countries—the presence of American troops in Iraq—what means do they suggest employing to mitigate the consequences of what they’re advocating? […]

  18. Anjin-San says:

    One wonders if Mr. Sharansky is willing to put his ass, as opposed to his mouth, on the line to support human rights in the middle east. I rather doubt it…

  19. MarkT says:

    Here read this as reported to Instapundit.

    If you really want to make any progress in convincing us the surge is succeeding, you’ll have to do better than linking to Instapundit, Powerline, and Michael Yon (who I’ve only heard of because all the right-wingers link to him – I didn’t see a bio on his site).

  20. Kathy says:

    True, mistakes were made, in the past we would clear out a town then leave and AQ would take off their dresses or return from whence they ran. But that isn’t happening now, the troops are staying in the area. Their presence allows the Iraqi people to rebuild without AQ tearing it down.

    “AQ would take off their dresses”! HA HA! LOL! That is funny! I get it! The word “dresses” is a metaphor for cowardice — you know, because only women wear dresses, and women are terrified little sissies. I love your sense of humor, JKB!

    Can’t say much for the substance of your argument, though. One, AQ retreated from direct confrontation with U.S. forces in areas where American troops were carrying out offensives, that is true. Your conclusion that they were fleeing in terror shows that you don’t understand how asymmetric warfare works. Retreating to avoid direct confrontation with a technologically, militarily more powerful fighting force is a classic element of guerrilla warfare. And it’s still happening; nothing has changed. Whether U.S. troops invade a town, “clean out” the insurgent fighters, and then leave; or whether U.S. troops do the first two but stay instead of leaving, makes absolutely no difference to the fact that the insurgent fighters have moved on to another town or region where U.S. troops are NOT present. That has been the pattern ever since the start of the insurgency, and it’s not going to change, and it cannot be changed unless we put a whole lot more U.S. troops in Iraq than 150,000 — like 500,000, or more.

    Rather than try and force AQ out of Iraq, we surround and kill all we find. Some run but their hiding places are getting fewer and fewer.

    That is pure fantasy, JKB. This is not another national army we are fighting. There simply aren’t a finite number of Al Qaeda fighters in Iraq. AQ fighters are created by ideology, not by citizenship. Clinging to the notion that the U.S. can “win” in Iraq by “surrounding and killing” all the insurgents we find is childish, foolish, and misinformed.

    And at least 60% of Americans are opposed to the war in Iraq, believe the war is a failure and has made the U.S. less, not more, safe, and want Congress to do more to make Pres. Bush end it — so your remark about “surrender” not playing well in “flyover country” is just self-indulgent nonsense.

  21. Tano says:

    “If you really want to make any progress in convincing us the surge is succeeding, you’ll have to do better than linking to Instapundit, Powerline, and Michael Yon..”

    You mean there are other sources than that?

    Heh. JKB is quite the piece of work, isn’t he? Here is a guy who shares his strong opinions on the war, and today – four years into the war, he seems to have suddenly discovered that the nation’s leading newspaper actually has (several very good) reporters in Iraq! Wow. He even is so helpful as to give us a link, so that we can all be in on this great discovery too!

    I’ve always suspected that there was a group of people who somehow mistook the radio-ranting and gutter-writing of the right as something other than a form of WWE-type entertainment – believe it or not, some actully take it seriously. But worse than that, apparently some rely on these sources as their ONLY source of “news”.

    It truly boggles the mind.

  22. G.A.Phillips says:

    Ken,

    As a liberal you don’t have any American values, values of the socialist, communist, Nazi, druid and fascist, yes, Amercing no.

    If you disagree please tell me where I’m mistaken?

  23. G.A.Phillips says:

    Tano,

    I’ve always suspected that there was a group of people who somehow mistook the radio-ranting and gutter-writing of the right as something other than a form of WWE-type entertainment – believe it or not, some actully take it seriously. But worse than that, apparently some rely on these sources as their ONLY source of “news”.

    When you listen to Conservative talk radio it helps to turn off the tape recorder stop concentrating on finding a statement that you can take out of context and use the ruin the hosts carer and pay attention to what they have to say.

    Dude take the 6 week Limbaugh challenge.

  24. Andy says:

    G.A., you’re a boring spoof. You need to either step up the winger insanity or tone it back down to an almost believable level. Right now, you’re just a bit silly.

  25. Pug says:

    George W. Bush and his administration were responsible for winning the war in Iraq. They proposed, promoted and executed the war. They had all the money, troops and resources they asked for. All they had to do was win.

    Yet they have failed miserably to pacify a small country, or even bring a semblance of order, in more than four years time, with 3,700 dead troops and hundreds of billions of dollars spent. Any executive in business who so completely bungled a major project would be out on his ear.

    As far as the talk of “surrender”, “anti-Americanism” and all the other smears, in the last election the President said very bluntly, “If the Democrats win, the terrorists win”. Americans, including in “flyover country” like Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, immediately went out and handed Republicans their walking papers. It was even worse in New England and the West.

    The only logical conlusion is that Americans hate America and love terrorists. Or perhaps this kind of talk has lost its effectiveness with a public that no longer believes Bush or his supporters and who, by a large majority, want an end to the Iraq War. Bush instead gave them an expanded Iraq War because I don’t think he got the message. It seems another message will have to be delivered to the Republican Party in November of 2008.

  26. What Kathy said.

    Ok, part of what what Kathy said was:

    Iraq is a catastrophe beyond the power of any words to adequately describe it…

    One can write this only if one is ignorant of history, the many disasters that have been much worse, and the many great historians who have written about them. May I suggest starting with Herodotus and working forward. The Liberation of Iraq isn’t even the worst disaster of the 21st century. That award goes to the ongoing genocide in Darfur.

    And a couple commenters should be ashamed of what they wrote concerning Natan Sharansky. You do not seem to know much about the man whose words, commitment and intent you abuse with profane words and insults. Grow up.

  27. Anjin-San says:

    Sharansky’s resistance to the Soviet regime is laudable, but I have a hard time seeing him as an honest advocate for human rights given some of his positions regarding Palestinians.

    The human rights thing has to work for both sides in order for it to have much meaning. He kind of comes off like another guy saying “when we kill it is for the good, when they do it is proof they are evil.” Not very original.

    The fact that his work has been an influence on Bush policy is hardly something to brag about, considering that almost all of Bush’s policies have been train wrecks…

  28. Steph says:

    Everybody who wants to give into Bin laden and withdraw now thank God you Bin Laden supporters weren’t around in the 40s or else we’d be speaking German or Japanese or a combo of both now.

    Turn tail and run like whiny little girls because of trouble.

  29. Steph says:

    Although this worries me. The New York times would have staffers rape children in broad daylight to save papers.

    They are going for the readership of the terrorists saying exactly what Al Queda wants them to say and kissing Bin laden on his privates like all the withdraw now people do so the terrorists inside this country must be bigger numbers than I thought.

  30. Steph says:

    I want to know who this Mr. Bush is anyway.

    You know someone supports Bin Laden when they use that term to describe the president.

  31. Avidbuff says:

    some sites I’ve found usefull.

    The Forth Rail…billroggio.com
    Small Wars Journal
    Counter Terrorism Blog
    MilBlog… great for gettin soldiers perspective
    Mudville Gazette
    Foreign Policy passport

  32. Andy says:

    Steph, that’s much better spoofery than we were getting from G.A. I really like the “NY Times wants to rape children” bit.

  33. G.A.Phillips says:

    Andy,

    just asking questions and pointing out where liberals are coming from, sorry if it was not entertaining for you.

    Its not easy to come new ways to make fun of liberals who only say the same old baseless propagandic uneducated trivial Donkeypoop over and over and over and over and over and over………….times infinity and over again.

  34. Michael says:

    Andy, The problem I fear is that G.A. actually believes that he’s saying, as opposed to Steph who is pure spoofery. Both are equally annoying though, and I would ask James for a comment moderation system if only there was enough activity here on OTB to justify it. Heck, I may make him one anyway.

  35. C.Wagener says:

    We’ve lost 3,600 people over four years while killing many thousand enemies.

    We lose roughly 42,000 per year on our highways, 2,000 to 4,000 of which due to CAFE standards (now there’s blood for oil).

    During the Cold War we lost an average of 1,900 military personnel per year due to accidents.

    Folks that think Iraq is a disaster might want to check out stuff that happened in previous centuries. Google “Iwo Jima” or “Battle of the Bulge” for example.

  36. Andy says:

    So, CW, the trillion dollars we have spent isn’t a big deal? Think about how many thousands of lives could have been saved by using that for health and safety instead.

  37. Randy says:

    There are multiple angles to this story, and probably good points to be made across the spectrum.

    First, isn’t it true that the same arguments (prevention of collapse into civil war, that is) were made against pulling out of Vietnam? Now 32 years after withdrawal, the country is far from where opponents envisioned it.

    At the same time, it’s certainly true that the fledgling Iraqi police and army aren’t yet ready to fly and would, at the very least, greatly struggle if left alone in the nest.

    One thing we certainly need not continue is being so divided over this issue. Why is there not more focus on this? Why do hardcores on each side continually antagonize the opposite side? In my opinion this is not a respectable way to work toward one’s ends

    What I do believe is that the mainstream media (for lack of a better term) coverage of this and all wars should be severely restricted (in my Utopian view it would be such voluntarily, but I understand this isn’t going to happen). It should in the same manner be prohibited from editorials or op ed’s regarding the topic. It should hesitate to report on military justice matters (especially those still pending judgement). It should not discourage dissent, but certainly not encourage it. Most of all, it should specifically refrain from its demonizing of the American servicemember.

  38. C.Wagener says:

    Andy,

    Who knows? You could be right, but it’s unknowable. Globally about 100 million lives were lost in WW II. I don’t know what ramifications that has in 2007. There is no control group.

    I’m not trying to be flip, but people tend to see bad things and assume any other course of action would have resulted in something better. No one knows what the situation in the world would be if we hadn’t invaded Iraq. Perhaps things would be better, perhaps NYC would be radioactive. At any rate, Iraq would certainly be violent and not akin to suburban Connecticut.

    I personally feel that Syria should have been bombed shortly after the Iraq invasion, as soon as it became clear they were aiding the terrorists in Iraq. Would that have improved things today? I think so, but I don’t know. What seems clear to me historically is that total war (WW II and the Civil War) works, however gruesome. By lacking the nerve to kill our enemies decisively, in large numbers, and with the risk of considerable collateral damage, we end up prolonging the war along with the death and misery.

    At any rate I’m just a guy on the Internet.