Jonah Goldberg, on the withdrawal of troops from Iraq:
I'm solidly in the camp that sees this as a strategic blunder. Iraqi democracy is fragile and Iran's desire to undermine it is strong. Also, announcing our withdrawal is a weird way to respond to a foiled Iranian plot to commit an act of war in the U.S. capital. Obviously, I hope I'm wrong and President Obama's not frittering away our enormous sacrifices in Iraq out of domestic political concerns and diplomatic ineptitude.
First, in regards to the fragility of democracy in Iraq, there isn’t much that can be done to help this. Yes, we could stay there and help, but that has the potential for turning into an indefinite occupation. And the history of democracy in Iraq isn’t exactly promising toward long-term success (Saddam Hussein was democratically elected, after all). Thus, focusing on ensuring the success of democracy in Iraq seems not only expensive, but fruitless in the long run.
Second, in regards to Iran, it seems like it’s time to give peace a chance. Or at least noninterventionism.
Maybe Iran doesn’t like watching the US interfere in Middle Eastern affairs, and maybe they will thus be less inclined to start a war with us.
Also, if Iran wants to go to war with Iraq but has a strong inclination to attack America, maybe the best thing to do would be withdrawing from Iraq and letting Iran be distracted go to war with Iraq. At the risk of sounding like a heartless American, if the Iranians are going to kill anyone, it’s better for Americans if the Iranians are killing Iraqis instead of Americans.
Finally, in regards to “frittering away” our sacrifices in Iraq, I would simply like to point out that we can’t afford to keep making those sacrifices. America is broke, and needs to make radical budget cuts. Nation-building is a luxury for successful empires; it is not a necessity for dying empires like America. (also, remember the old adage that “sunk costs are sunk costs”). We’ve already spent the money in Iraq; we won’t be recouping it anytime soon. The proper framework for analyzing whether to stay in Iraq should be predicated on current and future costs and outcomes, not past ones.
At any rate, it’s nice to see that America is finally leaving Iraq. Hopefully Obama will take use this as an opportunity to make some necessary cuts to military spending, and strengthen his resolve to quit minding the affairs of other nations. We aren’t the world’s policemen, after all.