The Therapy Sessions
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
Change the channel?
Amir Taheri has an interesting editorial that should be required reading for anyone who thinks our immediate withdrawal from Iraq would be a great thing, helping the cause of world peace:
Hassan Abbasi has a dream--a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the 'fleeing Americans,' forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by 'the Army of Muhammad.' Presented by his friends as 'The Dr. Kissinger of Islam,' Mr. Abbasi is 'professor of strategy' at the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new radical administration.
For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of 'running away,' leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.
To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of 'the last helicopter.' It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein's generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton's helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.
According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an "aberration," a leader out of sync with his nation's character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an "American Middle East." Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.
That's about the gist of it. Americans seem to be under the impression that we can walk away, change the channel on the Middle East and go back to living in the 90's again.
It ain't gonna happen.
These people want war and we don't.
And if history is any indication, that means we will surely get war - on their terms. If we choose to "stop" fighting this war, we only make the next war inevitable.
And it will make this one look very small by comparison.
In Iraq - over three years - we've lost 2,400 soldiers. It's terrible.
But in the Battle of the Bulge - over one month - the US lost 20,000 soldiers.
A few weeks later, another 7,000 would perish on Iwo Jima. To secure an island taht was never used. And a few weeks after that, another 20,000 would die on Okinawa.
Iraq stinks, but we are trying to avoid a much worse war. The governments that alongside us are elected and legitimate, but they are fragile in the face of fanaticism. They need us.
But we are eager to change the channel. Mainly, because we have forgotten what a large war is like.
Maybe it will take a few sucidal jihadis with nuclear weapons to remind us.