Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Critics Of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's Iraq Comments Sure Miss Out On Reality

A growing chorus of Republican partisans who are condemning the comments of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sure seem to missing out on reality. While Reid's comments were perhaps not helpful to the morale of the U.S. troops caught in the dire Iraq mess, and were probably better kept to himself. But the war isn't being lost because of Reid. The war is being lost because centuries of sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shiite sects has once again been unleashed. It's also being lost because the war was a terrible idea from the beginning. And it's being lost because the Bush Administration war planners sent way too small of a poorly equiped force of U.s. troops in; in fact just enough soldiers to fail.

At the peak of the Vietnam War more than 600,000 American soldiers were in South Vietnam with a population of 19 million and could not win. Iraq is even larger at 26.7 million persons, and yhe even smaller 140,000+ American forces are stretched even farther in an peacekeeping role to prevent car bombings or other acts of violence. There was a complete failure to secure the huge supply of arms at the beginning of the war, a failure to establish effective policing in the days after the fall of Saddam Hussein, and now the genie is out of the bottle and the violence way too widespread for such a small U.S. force.

It would be a great notion for the U.S. to encourage the UN to takeover security duties in Iraq or even a regional force comprised of Arab nations to act as peacekeepers. But the U.S. role has clearly failed and cannot succeed. The UN currently has more than 83,000 soldiers in 15 world trouble spots including Lebanon, with even nations such as China, Russia, Denmark, El Salvador and many others providing peacekeepers.

The U.S. cannot leave Iraq without some other peacekeping force involved to prevent further bloodshed or a larger regional sectarian conflict. But the U.S. cannot succeed in Iraq either. Handing this conflict over to a new group of peacekeepers with new ideas is the only viable way. The current order is cetainly not working.