Back in the fall of 2004, I was having dinner with some friends who all happened to be in the National Guard, recently back from Iraq and Afghanistan. The talk turned to the whole invasion of Iraq theme, and they wanted to know my take on it. I likened it to pulling the pin on a grenade: we had to sit there and hold that lever down until someone could either figure out a way of disarming the damn thing or we could talk somebody else into holding it while we got the hell out of there. Of course this was speaking metaphorically: the whole mideast is a very volatile and unstable commection of countries and sects and violence, and the destabilization of Iraq if handled badly could be the catalyst that starts the whole region into a hellish war.
And we have handled it badly.
We have some 21.5 kilotroops being deployed to Iraq, with the idea that the additional manpowwer can help stabilize the region. IMHO, it's more that they can help build a temporary structure that will last long enough for us to get the hell out before it collapses and becomes the conflagration point of the next nuclear war.
At least I hope we get the hell out. I believe that war is inevitable there between Sunni and Shia, and that it will be bloody and violent and insane. I hope it will be contained there and not spread to the rest of the world, but I am cynical about that. Wars never seem to behave in a predictable fashion.
Don't get me wrong: we did not start this war. It's been going on for a lot longer than we've been around. But we make an easy target for blame because of our outsider presence. We are the infidel, the common enemy, the aggressor.
Why has the war been handled badly?
One quite simple thing: there has been no clear mission.
We started off with WMD's, then getting rid of Saddam, then bringing about a regieme change, then kind of a mish-mash of stuff that isn't really clear.
Our current mission is "to get the job done". Totally meaningless, since the job is "to get the mission accomplished".
I believe that we do need more manpower in Iraq. I believe that we need it to prop up the infrastructure long enough for us to pull out gracefully, probably within a year to 18 months. I don't think we will ever pull out completely, and there will be several thousand troops left behind to be sacrificed when the fires of hell light up the night sky.
No, I don't want that. But I do think it is the outcome with the least potential loss of American lives.
So yeah, I actually approve of sending more troops to Iraq. But I have a request to go along with that-- nay, a demand: give us a simple, clear mission statement-- what needs to be accomplished by when-- and then get us the hell out of there.