Friday, August 05, 2005

Could We Loose Iraq?

Just a bit of an opinion piece here. I started thinking about this a couple nights ago. The war in Iraq has been compared incessantly to the war in Vietnam (namely by those on the Left, particularly Sen. Kennedy). The latest Al-Qaeda tape has even threatened the US with horrors worse than that of Vietnam. There are differing opinions on whether or not we won the war in Vietnam. The majority of actual military conflicts were successes for US forces. However, the goal of stopping the spread of Communism was never attained. The reason for this was because we pulled our troops out. The reason we pulled our troops out was a result of politics and a severe lack of public support (hat tip, Jane Fonda).

Immediately after 9/11, the country was united against terrorism. Both political parties came together and gave the president authority to deal with Iraq. Two and a half years later, that has changed. Living in New York, I am privy (if one could call it that) to a barrage of anti-war sentiments on a daily basis. Just trek on up to Union Square if you need a fix. Unfortunately, that same sentiment seems to be filtering out through the rest of the country. While many Americans do support the war effort and understand what is at stake, that number is on the decline.

There are a couple reasons for this. #1: America's penchant for "selective memory". We easily forget that which does not effect us and remember that which does. This ties right in to #2: The media. Does anyone remember the Iraqi elections of January 30th? How about the number of Marines killed this week? With a constant barrage of reported civilian and military deaths coming from the media, it's easy to forget that Iraq held an election in which women voted for the first time in that country's history. It's easy to forget that they are working on a constitution - their first ever. This is not to say that we should pay no mind to those lost, quite the contrary. But if we are to be made to focus on their deaths, we should also be reminded that they have not been in vain.

That said, this administration needs some new victories in Iraq. They cannot keep giving the public the "grim reminder of war" sound bite with every report of an insurgent attack and expect support of the war effort to stay the same. There needs to be a clear indication of the progress being made. While the administration shouldn't dwell on the negatives, they do need to acknowledge them and reassure us that it is worth it, with facts - not rhetoric. We need to know how Iraqi training is progressing, for better or worse. That will indicate how long we need to be there. They need to find a way to stabilize that country. Even staunch supporters of the war will reach a breaking point if insurgent attacks and coalition deaths continue to rise. In turn, the media needs to swallow its agenda and start getting some good news out there. There are good things happening over there. It's not all death and destruction. We need to know these things and not have to go digging for them.

Contrary to what some believe, this conflict is imperative. A free and democratic Iraq would severly hinder the spread of terrorism and help stabalize the Middle East. Both sides know this. Is the current track enough to prevent history from repeating itself? The war is far from being lost. But it is also not yet won.

**Update** Ace points out Bush's approval rating on Iraq hit an all time low.

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