Would Losing In Iraq Be Disastrous For U.S.?

January 21st, 2007  
Team Infidel

Topic: Would Losing In Iraq Be Disastrous For U.S.?

Miami Herald
January 21, 2007 News Analysis

Some historians and Middle East experts, looking at Cold War history, say they think that failure to win the war in Iraq might not have the result that President Bush envisions.
By Ron Hutcheson
WASHINGTON - President Bush has called Iraq a crucial battleground in a decades-long struggle against Islamic terrorism.
''It's important for our fellow citizens to understand that failure in Iraq would be a disaster for our future,'' he told soldiers at Fort Benning, Ga., last week. ``It's a different kind of war in which failure in one part of the world could lead to disaster here at home. . . . That is why we must, and we will, succeed in Iraq.''
Historians and Middle East experts, however, say that America's last ''long war,'' the four-decade Cold War against Soviet communism, offers some cautionary lessons as the nation debates its next moves in Iraq.
Previous presidents, they note, made many of the same arguments about Vietnam that Bush and his aides are making about Iraq: The war there was part of a larger struggle against a monolithic enemy, and Vietnam's neighbors would fall to communism like dominoes if the United States were defeated.
That turned out not to be true: The United States lost the battle in Vietnam but won the war against communism anyway.
Indeed, critics argue that Bush is making some of the same mistakes in Iraq that his predecessors made in Vietnam -- seeing a monolithic enemy where none exists, backing questionable allies, overlooking some of the causes of the conflict, and believing that victory is essential to America's future.
Lesson of history
For Bush, the lesson of history seems to be that patience is a virtue -- patience for a long war against radical Islamist terrorism and patience for the war in Iraq.
The president has been urging patience since the earliest phase of the war on terrorism.
''We are planning a broad and sustained campaign to secure our country and eradicate the evil of terrorism,'' Bush told Americans four days after Sept. 11, 2001. ``You will be asked for your patience, for the conflict will not be short. You will be asked for resolve, for the conflict will not be easy.''
At the time, few of his listeners knew that the president and his advisors were already targeting Iraq, although it had nothing to do with Sept. 11 and no operational links to al Qaeda. Even now, the link between Iraq and global terrorism is questionable.
While al Qaeda affiliates became active in Iraq after the United States invaded, Bush now acknowledges that the biggest problem in Iraq is sectarian violence between Shiite and Sunni Muslims -- Iraqis killing Iraqis, not terrorists targeting Americans.
Terminology at issue
Some administration critics think the concept of a ''war on terrorism'' is equally murky. They say the phrase puts too much emphasis on military action and overlooks the fact that Sunni and Shiite terrorists use the same tactics but are enemies, not allies.
''It shouldn't have been conceptualized as a war,'' said Anatol Lieven, a strategist at the New America Foundation, a centrist think tank that leans toward Democrats. ``Terrorism is not something you can make war against. Terrorism is a tactic, not a movement in itself. Terrorism is not a free-flowing miasma of hatredIt flows from particular issues.''
The administration fears that failure in Iraq would embolden Islamic extremists and give anti-American terrorists an oil-rich haven.
''Iraq is just part of a larger war; it is, in fact, a global war that stretches from Pakistan all the way around to North Africa,'' Vice President Dick Cheney told Fox News last weekend. ``If the United States doesn't have the stomach to finish the task in Iraq, we've put at risk what we've done in all of those other locations.''
At one point, Cheney said, ``It is the kind of conflict that's going to drive our policy and our government for the next 20 or 30 or 40 years.''
Many foreign-policy analysts, including some who generally support the president, question the premise that victory in Iraq is essential to winning the larger war against radical Islamic terrorism.
''I don't put too much emphasis on what happens in Iraq in terms of the long war,'' said Tom Nichols, the chairman of the strategy and policy department at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I.
James Jay Carafano, a defense analyst at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said no one can predict the fallout from success or failure in Iraq.
''That's one piece of a long-term competition,'' he said. ``You might be better off when you're done. You might be worse off. It's important, but the future is full of unintended consequences.''
Vietnam proved that.
American troops remained in Vietnam long after hope for victory had faded, in part because U.S. officials feared that withdrawal would hasten the spread of communism. In hindsight, many scholars think that the communist takeover of Vietnam backfired by prompting the Soviet Union to become overly ambitious.
The disastrous Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 put the brakes on communist expansion, exposed the limits of Soviet power, and contributed to the Soviet Union's dissolution. ''The U.S. loss in Vietnam emboldened the Russians to become more aggressive, and then they overreached,'' Carafano said. ``The irony is, our defeat in Vietnam contributed to our victory in the Cold War.''
Duration of struggle
Some Iraq War critics contend that the demands of a long struggle against terrorism offer another reason to withdraw from Iraq.
''If Iraq was really as important as President Bush says it is, and we believed it, then we should be able to send 100,000 or 200,000 additional troops. But we don't believe it,'' said Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University. ``If indeed we are serious about the long struggle, then it makes sense to cut our losses and staunch the bleeding.''
January 22nd, 2007  
Aboslutely. Because if US loses, then even tiny Luxemburg won't take Uncle Sam seriously either
January 22nd, 2007  
Originally Posted by phoenix80
Aboslutely. Because if US loses, then even Luxemburg won't take Uncle Sam seriously too
You saying Luxemburg takes us seriously now?

The US is not liked very much around the Globe, and as the actions of the United Nations have shown of late, not many nations around the World take the US seriously on very many issues.
January 22nd, 2007  
Okay, I think the terms "winning" and "losing" are purely subjective to which media outlet or pundit is blabbering. I wonder what they will put in the history books for our children to read.
January 23rd, 2007  
A Can of Man
Losing would be a huge disaster for many reasons.
In no particular order:
1) Iraq will no doubt be a breeding ground haven for terrorists. If kicked out of Iraq, can you really see America going back in?
2) No one will fear US military intervention anymore.
3) The US will be reluctant to use force even when absolutely required (fearing defeat).
4) No one will believe the US when it promises to back them up.

Basically if the US loses in Iraq now, it'll definately have to fight again in tougher circumstances and with even less support.
If you think about it, the defeat in Somalia encouraged a lot of groups who initially feared America's capabilities that if enough Americans are killed, they will automatically win.
So in essence "would losing in Iraq be disastrous for the US?" was in fact answered at a smaller scale in the form of Somalia. The consequences would be similar in concept but larger in scale.
January 23rd, 2007  
Their underestimation of our strength will be their undoing. Let them think what they want I say.
January 23rd, 2007  
The math co-processor in my crystal ball is malfunctioning so I am unable to answer this question. No one knows what the result will be. I'd daresay though that there will be no singular answer to the question.

One thing I found very interesting was I saw Dan Rather on Letterman and he said "just because the Domino Theory was wrong in regards to Vietnam and Communism does NOT mean its wrong now"... very intriguing words coming from him of all people.
January 24th, 2007  
A Can of Man
in regards to the domino theory, I think it was true even then. The Vietnamese war in Cambodia did happen and it was a disaster for Vietnam mostly because of the high losses the Vietnamese had sustained from fighting the French and especially the Americans.
Had North Vietnam beaten the South swiftly and quickly with minimum loss of life, the spread into Cambodia could have even succeeded. Remember that there were communist insurgencies in Malaysia and Indonesia at the time too.
So it was valid then, and it's still valid now. At least that's what I think.

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