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Crossposted from Alaskan Librarian
The Jan 31, 2007 daily commentary explains in very clear terms why the idea that al-Qaeda will find a happy home in Iraq if the US leaves. After explaining the basic math and why the Sunni loath al-Qaeda only somewhat less than the United States, Mr Carpenter explains:
The notion that a Shiite-Kurdish-dominated government would tolerate Iraq becoming a safe haven for al Qaeda is improbable on its face. Even if U.S. troops left Iraq, the successor government would continue to be dominated by Kurds and Shiites, since they make up more than 80 percent of Iraq's population. And, in marked contrast to the situation under Saddam Hussein, they now control the military and police.
At best, al Qaeda could hope for a tenuous presence in predominantly Sunni areas of the country while being incessantly stalked and harassed by government forces -- and probably hostile Iraqi Sunnis as well. That doesn't exactly sound like a reliable base of operations for attacks on America.
Mr. Carpenter's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on January 11, 2007 open with his numerically sound explanation for why al-Qaeda will never inherit Iraq. He goes on to explode other Administration myths of the supposed consequences of leaving like:
Mr. Carpenter's testimony ends with an exploration of the costs of staying in Iraq. These include:
Damage to Americaâ€™s Standing in the World - "Even the September 2006 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq conceded that the U.S. occupation of Iraq had served as a focal point and inspiration for Muslim extremists. Equally worrisome, it had also served as a training arena for such militants to hone their military and terrorist skills. An Al Qaeda letter intercepted by the U.S. military indicates that the organization itself regards a continued U.S. military presence and, consequently, a long war in Iraq as a boon to its cause."
Straining the All-Volunteer Military - "Even some hawks are concerned about the negative impact of the Iraq mission on the all- volunteer force (AVF). They should be concerned. In December 2006, Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the Armyâ€™s chief of staff, bluntly told a House committee that the active-duty Army "will break" unless there was a permanent increase in force structure. And that is before any contemplated additional deployments to Iraq."
Costs in Blood and Treasure - "The tab for the Iraq mission is already more than $350 billion, and the meter is now running at approximately $8 billion a month. Furthermore, even those appalling figures do not take into account indirect costs, such as long-term care for wounded Iraq war veterans."
Along the way, Mr. Carpenter asks questions that I'd like to see asked of the Administration and Congress every day until plain answers are obtained:
"It is essential to ask the administration and its hawkish backers at what point they will admit that the costs of this venture have become unbearable. How much longer are they willing to have our troops stay in Iraq? Five years? Ten years? Twenty years? How many more tax dollars are they willing to pour into Iraq? Another $300 billion? $600 billion? $1 trillion? And most crucial of all, how many more American lives are they willing to sacrifice? Two thousand? Five thousand? Ten thousand?"
Go ahead and read these. If you find fault with Mr. Carpenter's facts or conclusions, tell me why.
The only fault I find is that I believe the United States must remain committed to provided some level of reconstruction aid to Iraq until their oil and civilian infrastructure is back to the way it was in January 2003. We also need to remain committed to the autonomy, if not outright independence of Iraqi Kurdistan. Unlike Mr. Carpenter, I do subscribe to the "you break it, you buy it." I just know that you can't fix a watch with a hammer, no matter how sincere your desire to fix the watch is. The right tool for the job. And with four years of blank checks and rising violence and decaying infrastructure, the occupation is definitely NOT the right tool for the job.
We really, really need to try something different.