Accuracy in Media

Now that major gains have been made to bring stability to Iraq, it would be
foolish for the United States to simply leave the country arbitrarily, military
strategists say.

“The purpose of this [war] is to advance our interests,” said Frederick
Kagan
of the American Enterprise Institute. “That’s why America
fights wars. And I think that this conflict has the potential to advance our
interests in the region and in the global war on terror dramatically, but only
if we see it through to its conclusion.” Kagan’s consistent support of the Bush
Administration’s efforts in Iraq have made him a favorite target of left-wing
blogs.

According to the testimony of Kagan and two other foreign policy experts at
an AEI forum, now is not the time for an unconditional withdrawal of U.S.
troops, as presidential hopeful Barack Obama has suggested.

Retired Army General Jack Keane said that while al-Qaeda has been
“operationally defeated” in Iraq, a precipitous withdrawal could reverse the
momentum gained in the region.

Al-Qaeda has mostly fled the country thanks to a united effort by American
military forces and the up-and-coming Iraqi military.

“This is a major strategic defeat for…al-Qaeda, because they declared
[Iraq] as their central front,” said Keane. “Certainly with [the] U.S. presence
in Iraq, they felt that this was a vulnerability that they could exploit for
their own purposes. They needed the Sunni’s support to do that, and that has
failed.”

Keane also praised the resilience of the Iraqi people in their everyday
lives, noting how they are no longer complacent with terrorism in their land.
The threat of a terrorist attack no longer dictates their actions.

“They believe intuitively that they are not going to be harmed, that the
probability is not there for them,” said Keane. “So they’re on those streets
with their families and children; they’re there in the evenings to have some
sort of social life.”

Kagan asserts that these are major gains in Iraq, but blasted the media and
Obama for “misquoting” the Iraqi people and leaders such as Prime Minister
Nouri al-Maliki.

Recent reports stemming from Obama’s campaign trip to the Middle East state
that Maliki supports Obama’s plan for an unconditional withdrawal of troops by
2010.

However, Kagan, who taught at West Point, noted that Maliki has said
such a withdrawal can only take place if many security goals and conditions have
been met; specifically, the U.S. must not leave until Iraq is secure and capable
of defending itself from hostile neighbors, such as Iran, and from further
terrorist activity.

“How are you going to deal with an Iranian challenge at all if you start by
taking what is now a tremendous setback we have imposed with our Iraqi partners
on Iran,” said Kagan, “and turn it into a tremendous victory for Iran?”

“There is no question about whether the Iraqi government wants to have a
strategic partnership with the U.S.”

Kagan also asserted that it would be unwise to shift the focus of the
American military from Iraq to Afghanistan, as Barack Obama has suggested in his
future plans for U.S. involvement in the region.

“From a pure geo-strategic perspective, it is insane to imagine that
Afghanistan is somehow more important than Iraq,” said Kagan.

Instead of focusing on a withdrawal, the U.S. should seek to strengthen
Iraq’s potential as an oil-producing giant. Its location also makes it vital to
maintaining peace in the entire Middle Eastern region.

And as the admitted key to al-Qaeda’s success, a healthy Iraq will help to
prevent the group’s ability to export terror globally and within the region.

“Remember that they are terrorists, and they will be capable of a spectacular
attack from time to time,” said Keane, “but what they cannot do is sustain a
level of violence that could threaten or destabilize the regime.”




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