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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Napolitano goes for truth over consequences

    It’s quiet in Baghdad. Too quiet. At least that’s the claim made by a recent Time Magazine article, somehow intimating that a reduction in sectarian violence is a negative development. Meanwhile, early indications of President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq – barely one month old – suggest that the strategy may indeed be working.

    Iraqi bloggers Mohammed and Omar Fadhil – widely respected for their candor and eyewitness reporting – have been optimistic about the developments on the ground. “”Early signs are encouraging,”” they write. “”Commanders and lieutenants of various militant groups abandoned their positions in Baghdad and in some cases fled the country.””

    The psychological effect of the surge has taken hold. For months leading up to President Bush’s announcement of the troop surge – and especially following the 2006 midterm elections – the American media was littered with arguments about why the United States should begin withdrawing its troops. When Bush instead announced more troops for Iraq, insurgents were surprised and probably dismayed.

    Because Iraq is of immense geostrategic importance – bordering Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and others while controlling vast amounts of hydrocarbon reserves – to leave before Iraq is functioning and stable would be as big a blunder as invading in the first place.

    NBC anchor Brian Williams admitted that the city of Ramadi felt safer than his last visit. According to Williams, “”the war has changed.””

    And yet, despite the measured optimism surrounding the surge strategy, many Democrats want us to believe that Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano is out of touch with reality.

    Napolitano, a Democrat, traveled to Iraq last week at the behest of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to assess the situation. It was her first trip to the country – and her reaction to the conditions on the ground surprised many, especially her supporters.

    During a press conference she gave in Kuwait, Napolitano stated very bluntly, “”In my view, we got into this war without thinking through everything we should have. We should not get out of this war without thinking everything through.

    “”I do think we shouldn’t exit precipitously without giving this one more shot.””

    Translation: I am tacitly supporting the troop surge.

    It’s a sign of bravery for any Democrat to come out in vocal support, or nuanced support, of President Bush’s plan, but luckily, that’s what leadership is about.

    Napolitano is exactly right.

    Because Iraq is of immense geostrategic importance – bordering Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and others while controlling vast amounts of hydrocarbon reserves – to leave before Iraq is functioning and stable would be as big a blunder as invading in the first place.

    Either we stick it out or we significantly curtail our dependence on foreign oil in the next year or two. Your choice.

    Napolitano’s courage in the face of many Democratic detractors is laudable. It demonstrates that Napolitano is in politics not as a gratifying way to stoke her ego, but rather, to look at the facts and decide what is in our country’s, and her constituents’, best interest. In this case, betting on the troop surge is in our nation’s best interest.

    Consider the alternative.

    American troops pull out of Iraq to forward operating bases in Turkey, Kuwait, Bahrain, elsewhere. Iraq spirals into all-out sectarian anarchy with Sunnis killing Shia, Shia killing Sunnis and the Kurds in the north just trying to carve out their own niche of influence away from the fratricidal violence to the south.

    Civil war in Iraq spills over into Saudi Arabia, where Shia populate the regions with the largest Saudi oil fields. With independence in mind, Kurds in southeastern Turkey and Syria try to create a de facto separation from Ankara and Damascus to join their counterparts in northern Iraq.

    Turkey freaks and probably invades northern Iraq to prevent Kurdish terrorist groups from operating in Iraq. Iran leverages its influence with Iraqi Shia to establish a pro-Iranian regime in Baghdad.

    And after six years and two wars to (supposedly) eliminate the governments that harbor terrorist training camps, al-Qaida once again finds a decent, ungovernable place to train its people in the ways of murdering as many Americans as possible.

    Thus, I am thankful that Napolitano has the foresight to support this administration’s vision in Iraq. No doubt, there are no good choices to make at this point; the war was a blunder from the start. But as dangerous (via incompetence) as this administration is, the calls of some Democrats for a phased withdrawal from Iraq before stability reigns don’t seem much better.

    Napolitano’s brand of politics is something the Democratic Party could use more of.

    Matt Stone is a senior majoring in international studies and economics. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu

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