Stuck Between Iraq And A Hard Place
The national debate has continued all week on President Bush's proposal to surge U.S. troops in Iraq by 21,500, to mostly bad U.S. public reviews. On the surface, it is very easy to see where the public is weary of this war and wants out. But the war in Iraq has put the U.S. on a very complicated place in the MidEast right now. You could say that we're stuck between Iraq and a hard place.
A main street that runs right up to the front door of the International Green Zone, Haifa Street, has been the subject of serious combat and door to fighting by American and Iraqi units all week long. Yet Sunni insurgents only resupply with fresh fighters each day. Mr. Bush would have you believe that an additional 21,500 U.S. troops is all that is needed to secure the city of Baghdad. But the fact of the matter is that the current 130,000 U.S. troops already in Iraq are not able to secure the street just outside the safe International Green Zone. If the Americans cannot even secure the street just outside their door, then how is the entire city of Baghdad or even the nation of Iraq to be made secure. The task seems daunting to impossible. The current policy in Iraq is grossly failing.
But Iran is certainly waiting in the wings to pick up any pieces of an American collapse in Iraq. Oil analysts now predict that Iran wil have to discontinue oil exports by 2015 because of a declining supply of oil. Iran needs both a nuclear power program to generate power and conserve resources as well as to expand their interests into Iraq in order to have any future at all as a nation. The botched up war policy of Bush to remove Saddam Hussein in 2003 removed an important Sunni blockaid to Iranian Shiite regional expanisonism in the MidEast from Iran. Now working with elements within the Shiite majority in Iraq, such as radical antiU.S. cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr, Iran is taking full advantage of the huge favor that George Bush did for Iran. It's a little too late for Mr. Bush to want to now contain the political interests of Iran in the region now that he has done them such a huge favor by removing the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein and his Baathist allies.
Another major wrinkle is that while much of the American public would like the U.S. out of Iraq, many nations in the world feel that the U.S. has some major peacekeeping obligations within Iraq to provide for stabilizing the nation and providing security there. Most Americans are unaware of the massive global obligations that the UN has throughout the world in global troublespots providing much needed security. Many nations including China, Russia, France, Germany, even little nations like Denmark and El Salvador provide peacekeepers throughout the world. Much of the world community simply sees Iraq as the responsibility of the U.S. to provide for it's security and peace. As General Colin Powell argued with other Bush Administration members, if "we break Iraq, then we have to buy it".
Right now the UN finds itself overextended throughout the world in Sudan(10,023 UN peacekeepers), Ivory Coast(9,036 UN peacekeepers), Liberia(15,038 UN peacekeepers), Democratic Republic Of The Congo(18,473 UN peacekeepers), Ethiopia and Eritrea(2,285 UN peacekeepers), Western Sahara(206 UN peacekeepers), Haiti(8,360 UN peacekeepers), Timor-Leste(981 UN peacekeepers), India-Pakistan(43 UN peacekeepers), Cyprus(918 UN peacekeepers), Georgia(135 UN peacekeepers), Kosovo(16,300 UN peacekeepers), Golan Heights(1,048 UN peacekeepers), Lebanon(11,512 UN peacekeepers) and the Middle East(150 UN peacekeepers). The U.S. only provides forces for the Golan Heights, Georgia, Liberia, Ethiopia and Eritrea and Kosovo. The rest of the world community provides the overwelming number of world peacekeepers. In addition nations such as France have thousands more soldiers in the Ivory Coast with an independent peacekeeping mission, otherwise the world supply of cocoa would disappear from the world shelves and chocolate products would become a thing of the past.
The U.S. laments so many dead and wounded in Iraq. But nearly every UN peacekeeping mission has suffered many dead or wounded, and some of these UN peacekeeping missions were begun as long ago as 1964 and continued for all these years. The situation in Iraq long ago passed the stage where the war was a bad idea to becoming a needed security, peacekeeping and humanitarian mission by someone. Some nation has to act, and the U.S. already has forces on the ground in Iraq.
The world community simply expects the U.S. to act as peacekeepers in Iraq and provide security there. The UN cannot extend it's forces into one more nation. It's an overextended force already, and the expectation is that the U.S. must act to secure Iraq or the risk of a much worse humanitarian crisis will result. Those that advocate that U.S. forces withdrawal right now or deploy to some other region outside of Iraq ignore the fact that peacekeepers from the UN are deployed in many in global troublespots. It would make no sense for them to withdrawal and allow wars to break out all over the world. It is almost childlike that some believe in simple "solutions" like "withdrawal now" or "redeploy elsewhere", yet it is obvious that the current policy in Iraq clearly is not working, and is not likely to work either. And Iran is certainly waiting to pick up the pieces and worsen the situation.
You might say that the U.S. is caught between Iraq and a hard place with no easy answers or solutions to be found.