Monday, November 20, 2006

Sooner or Later Guaranteed

It is very frustrating to see the latest “Big Push, Go Long, Go Big” or whatever else you call the latest blue sky thinking on Iraq. Everybody seems to be assuming that we can bide our time and things will just stew along…a bad month here and there but things will stay pretty much the same. If not today or next week then soon there is a very good chance that things will get considerably worse. Suzanne Nossel points out something over at Democracy Arsenal that is getting no mention in the media at all. While running through all the options available to us in Iraq and acknowledging that none of them have a chance of succeeding she reaches point number 9.

9. If we don't begin a planned exit, there's a good chance we'll find ourselves in an unplanned one — It's surprising that by now we haven't experienced the Iraqi equivalent of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the dragging of a corpse of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu a decade later. But it seems likely that that day will come.

The conventional wisdom that naively assumes that the worst that can happen in Iraq is a continuation of the current low-level civil war is sorely wanting. True, we will probably continue to lose of thousands of Iraqi lives and dozens of U.S. soldiers each month but we seem to be ignoring the fact that the American occupation has actually made the Iraqi situation continually worse since it began. There is not one reason to suspect that this trend will not continue.

As the situation gets worse, and it will, what are the odds that we won’t be caught square in the middle of a full blown civil war? How many thousands or American and Iraqi lives will that cost? But that's not all. The Kurdish situation in the North could lead us into an all out confrontation with Turkey and we will have to takes sides in a shooting war with a NATO ally. How long before Iran decides it is time to step in and invades? As the violence in Iraq continues to escalate the more likely some of these scenarios become. That’s just reality.

When our so called planners and policymakers are adding up all the costs and benefits of leaving or staying in Iraq they really should consider some of these worst case scenarios. If they decide that we might as well try a “Last Big Push” because it can't make it worse then they are just ignoring the reality of the situation because it can get worse in myriad ways. The bottom line is that the longer we stay in Iraq, “Big Push” or no, the worse things are likely to get.

Did I mention that Afghanistan is rapidly degrading as well and that ignoring it will not make it go away? Again, it may not be this week or this month but as the situation deteriorates the potential for “really ugly” gets greater and greater.

No comments: