The Columbia Critic

A place to debate anything we want to. We'll talk Columbia campus issues. We'll talk up the homosexual problem. We'll talk China. And we'll talk without resorting to partisan rhetoric. We may be left. We may be right. But we aren't going to be quoting any party line. We're leading the discussion. But feel free to chime in. Hannity and Colmes this is not.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Iraq - potential, but maddeningly unrealised

Polls are polls. Sampling of public opinion. But I am a firm believer that one should not run a country by polls. It causes a government to be slow to react and allows short term concerns to override long term planning.
That being said, there are important and valid reasons behind the grand decline of public opinion. And they should be taken into consideration.
The original primary reasoning presented for going into Iraq was falsified. The choice to move forward despite this may have been a necessary one. But the truth of the matter is that the war in Iraq is a monetary hindrance and a drain on our forces and resources. While we cannot remove ourselves from the conflict immediately, we must have an exit strategy for a large portion of our forces (minus the small permanent presence that will remain). I understand the President's reticence to disclose such information to the public, but nevertheless a strategy must be well established and constantly updated if still kept confidential.
Further, the Iraq conflict does have the potential to affect positive change in the region. But in its current state it does little on its face to promote our counter-terrorism goals, particularly if one considers the cost of the war and occupation and the drain on current force resources. I suggest that it may be possible to garner some positive benefit from our presence in Iraq if we are careful to look for and take the opportunities that are presented to us. Our strategic position in Iraq and Afghanistan, flanking Iran, places us within a physical sphere of influence in the region and allow for potentially unprecedented force projection in our efforts to infiltrate terrorist cells, hunt down enemies, and extract information. But our current immersion in Iraqi affairs serves to impair this potential advantage. This of course is due to the aforementioned poor planning and execution of the post-war occupation suggested by Keith.
We are in Iraq. Our forces are operating at an OpTempo that cannot be sustained for much longer. We have a few paths that we can follow towards force reduction and increased sustainment capabilities, and potential exists to take better advantage of our current strategic position. One thing is for certain - we must not remain with the Status Quo. My fear is that the ineffectiveness and unresponsiveness of Congress in conjunction with the annoyingly inflexible steadfastness of the Executive Branch will result in just that.

In summary: I still believe there were potential advantages to going into Iraq. But I believe that few if any of those advantages have been realized...and with the costs involved in our postwar efforts that, ergo, our efforts in terms of strategic repositioning and force projection have not had and likely will not have the opportunity to come to fruition.


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