Iraq: A Handy Rebuttal to the “We Have to Finish the Job” Conventional Wisdom

To win in Iraq, we need to leave Iraq. To win, we need to stop being the issue. To win, we need to give our money, our brains, our support in every way — but no longer the lives of our soldiers.
Far from signaling U.S. abandonment of Iraq, removing our troops will allow us to focus on the only viable solution to the crisis in Iraq: using our power to influence diplomatic and political advancements, and using our financial might to help reconstruct the country and help build a civil society in which democracy might actually take hold.

It’s not about cutting and running, it’s about shifting our efforts — and our resources — from a reliance on hard power to soft power (check out Joe Nye for more on this).

Since his first fevered dreams of toppling Saddam and remaking the Middle East, President Bush has always tied the idea of finishing the job in Iraq to the exercise of hard power. It was a job more for Rummy than Colin or Condi. His only nod to questions of when our troops will come home: “As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down.” But a positive outcome in Iraq will not be the result of our military might, even if we stop-loss our troops for the next hundred years.

If civil war in Iraq is to be averted, it will happen not because the Iraqi military is ready but because the people of Iraq have been convinced of the value of finally putting aside their ethnic and political differences.

As retired Gen. William Odom, former national security advisor to Reagan, has pointed out: the insurgents are fighting very effectively without US military training, so why aren’t the Iraqi security forces? Odom also reminds us that while we trained the Vietnamese military very well, in the end South Vietnam’s political leaders lost the war.

It’s about winning hearts and minds, not winning body count tallies. And, in their hearts and minds, the Iraqis see us as occupiers not liberators.

Arianna Huffington | huffingtonpost (read more. . .)