Opponents of the Bush administration’s Iraq policy are fond of accusing Bush of “not having a plan” for dealing with Iraq after the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein. This is, of course, just a self-righteous way of saying they didn’t like the plan Bush actually did have, and that the plan has not lead to perfect results immediately.
Nevertheless, it’s worth asking those who call for an immediate pullout from Iraq, or a timetable for a pullout within a specified short time frame, what their plan is for dealing with the situation that will result from a pullout.
Clayton Cramer has posed this question, and given some realistic answers. All of his answers are worse than the worst likely scenarios resulting from staying in Iraq. As he points out:
But if the American people decide that the cost is too high, what is the alternative strategy? Leaving Iraq alone right now will lead to full civil war, and probably the crowd that likes to torture people to death with power tools will be back in power–just like the way things were under Saddam Hussein. As the declassified Key Findings of the National Intelligence Estimate last week pointed out, if we lose in Iraq, it will embolden jihadists throughout the world. The reason isn’t hard to figure out: it will be perceived that like what happened in Somalia, Americans are weak, and lack the willingness to fight.
What are the options? Here’s Clayton’s list (I’m summarizing here, not quoting — for his more complete explanations click here):
- “Fortress America”: Lock down the U.S. at the border and within, and curtail civil rights in the pursuit of terrorists who are here. Of course, it only takes one terrorist to get through — either shipping a nuclear weapon with a long-period timer, or getting one single legal U.S. resident to cooperate. So we are probably looking at more 9/11-scale attacks. (Why is this less likely if we are in Iraq? Because so many jihadists are fighting us over there on their home turf. We don’t want them freed up to attack us at home.)
- Make the terrorists happy: Don’t just leave Iraq — forget about stopping the Al-Qaeda-backed genocide in Darfur, give them back Afghanistan, cut off aid to Israel and acquiese when Iran uses nuclear weapons to annihilate Israel. And this will only work until they decide it’s time for all of us to convert to Islam also and replace the Constitution with Shari’a law, at which point we will have to either acquiese to that, or go to war with a much stronger enemy.
- Here I’ll quote: “Treat Muslim nations the way they have treated every other nation. Invade them; occupy; convert their mosques into churches; send in troops with orders to kill anyone that gives them any lip; assess a special tax on Muslims; pass laws that give Muslims less legal rights than non-Muslims, not just in ways that matter (say, a ban on Muslims possessing anything more deadly than a butter knife), but in ways intended to degrade them, like the laws that Muslims nations had prohibiting non-Muslims from riding horses.” I don’t think we, as a society, are willing to do that. We still believe in religious freedom.
- Prove that Islam is not really as superior as it claims, by nuking Mecca. I don’t think we’re willing to do that, either.
- Nuke a lot of Muslims. I don’t think we’re willing to do that, either.
So next time someone tells you we should pull out of Iraq, ask them one question: What’s your plan for after that?