Letter to the editor on Iraq
My letter to the editor about the controversy over the war in Iraq was published in today's Staunton News Leader. I wrote it in response to an editorial that said that "thousands of lives have been wasted" in Iraq, which I think is a gross misjudgment about the course of events. My letter represents yet another plaintive, mild-mannered effort on my part to reach out to war skeptics, something that is hard to do in the short space available. I would have liked to expand on certain complex issues, above all the precise nature of the well-documented links between Saddam Hussein and terrorists. Many war critics falsely construe such assertions as saying that Saddam Hussein was complicit in planning for the 9/11 attacks, or that he was a close partner of Al Qaeda. Those are nothing more than worn-out red herrings. I also wish I could have expanded on the nature of the terrorist insurgents in Iraq, which many Americans believe reflect widespread opposition to the U.S. presence there. In fact, those insurgents are an amalgam of Baathist regime remnants who want to restore the Sunni faction to dominance, and Al Qaeda outsiders. True, many Iraqi people are deeply angry at the ongoing violence, and it is only natural to blame the authorities, i.e., the United States and Coalition allies, even though they probably realize that the violence is not being perpetrated by our forces. This simply illustrates the universal tendency of people to want to have it both ways: Just as Americans want to enjoy an opulent life style but not pay high prices (only possible when labor is cheap, hence illegal immigration and imports from China), Iraqis want domestic peace and freedom from external occupation. Those objectives were not compatible under the regime of Saddam Hussein, and they will remain in conflict to some extent until the new democratic regime is firmly consolidated. That could take at least five or ten years, a time span that would sorely test the American people's patience and would stretch our armed forces to the limit. If the buildup of Iraqi security forces continues to proceed as well as it has been going, however, I would expect virtually all U.S. combat forces to be out of Iraq within the next two or three years, depending mainly on political trends in this country.