Wednesday, November 16, 2005

To Set a Date or Not to Set a Date?

As we all know, much of the scrutiny of Bush’s actions in office lies in our involvement in Iraq, and our reluctance to set a date for withdrawal. While that may be something that many believe should happen immediately, there are many reasons it should not. One of which is that we are in the middle of rebuilding the country and leaving it now could leave it so unstable that everything good that the US has done to create a democratic society could be reversed.

An article in today’s Washington Post addresses the desire of many US Senators to have a solid timeline of how much longer our troops will be stationed over in Iraq. While they may want to be able to tell their constituents when their family members will be returning, it is still impossible to pinpoint exactly when the country will become stable. I do believe that being able to see the end much more clearly would relieve much of the anxiety felt by many Americans opposed to the war. However, it could very well be a false light at the end of the tunnel and could lead to even more unrest toward our administration if that deadline had to be extended.

The Senate is increasing pressure on the White House to get them to end the war (the proposal for a set date only lost by 18 votes). While it is definitely important to get the job done as quickly as possible, something as delicate as a new form of government cannot be rushed, or it will likely be just a flash in the pan.

Perhaps some of the pressure comes from promises from claims by insurgent groups that they will back down if American troops pull out. However, it seems to me that this is much like negotiating with a terrorist. These groups are not known for keeping their word to the United States (except when that word revolves around attacks). Aborting a mission because they say that they will back down is not something that the US will likely do. It is better to make sure that they have lost their place in the country, rather than backing out and hoping that they stay quiet.

While the Senate and many Americans may want a date to look toward for the end of the war, the military Commanders believe that it would be a mistake to put a time on it. I think that Bush is doing the right thing by listening to those who are in the battle and leading the troops. These are the men who are in the line of fire and seeing first hand what can and cannot be done in the country. Those of us here in the States who are not on the frontlines and simply want the whole thing to be over are probably not the best authority on what would be the best situation for withdrawal from Iraq.

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