Baldilocks guest blogger, King Buzz, here again.
These are difficult days for our troops in Iraq. I've only been gone from there for a month, but when I left, it was clear things would be taking a turn for the worse. While it may seem wrong to question what we're doing when our troops are dying their, we have to be informed and thoughtful citizens and follow that up with communication to our elected representatives.
My problems with the occupation strategy are difficult to articulate without having them sound like direct personal criticisms of specific administration officials. It isn't appropriate to go into that, but I'll be honest and say that I feel some anger and frustration in my heart. However, that is emotional and not constructive, especially in light of what is happening on the ground right now. We need to support our troops, but we also need to express to our political leaders the course of action we would like to see taken which is the best for those troops and for our country as a whole.
First of all, what options are actually available? Occupying a country and working towards a transition to a democratic government where there is no democratic tradition is extraordinarily complex. Basically, though, the courses of action can be boiled down to three options - 1) do more, 2) do the same, or 3) do less. I believe we have to do more - send more money, more troops, and take more time by clearly spelling out a more realistic transition period that is closer to five years instead of June.
Earlier, when I wrote about my opposition to the occupation strategy, I said that I was opposed to it based on the principle of judiciousness; that I did not feel that wisdom and truth were being employed. I won't speak to the potential motivations or rationales for that, because it is a subjective matter on which no one except those involved can speak with certainty. But, I don't believe that an accurate accounting of the current and future time and costs have been made clear to the American people.
Part of the reason for that is deficit spending and tax cuts. I believe it creates an illusion for the average person on the street that we're not pouring many billions upon billions of dollars into Iraq, which we are. I'm no economist, but I'm sure we cannot do this for long. The bill will come due.
When I left Iraq last month, the major rotation to replace troops who had been deployed for over a year was underway. As I attended planning meetings at CJTF-7 headquarters, it was clearly stated that a smaller and less capable force was replacing the main part of the experienced invasion force, even though the security situation was not improving. As I attended meetings with Coalition Provisional Authority personnel, they universally expressed frustration and uncertainty of how the turn-over could possibly be accomplished by 30 June. As I worked with senior Iraqi Ministry personnel in the appointed transition government, they were intending on jumping ship before the end of June. The current plan does not jive with the reality.
If we were to fail or quit what we've started in Iraq, the world will be a much more dangerous place than it was when Saddam ruled Iraq. Because we cannot fail, we must spend more money, more time and more blood. Those of you who scoff when someone mentions reinstituting the draft, reconsider your derision. The fact that those troops who've been in Iraq longer than a year are now being kept longer (again) and some units that have just returned are facing redeployment to Iraq again, you're likely to see some serious retention problems. Those of you are anticipating a repeat of tax refunds, forget it. Expect the opposite.
In fact, if you really want to see us succeed in Iraq, write your elected officials and ask for the draft to be brought back and your taxes to be raised in order to achieve victory in Iraq. Don't just "say" you support the troops, send them your money and be prepared to send them your kids.