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McCain Making Sense on Iraq

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John McCain on our responsibilities in Iraq:

”It would be an unconscionable act of betrayal, a stain on our character as a great nation, if we were to walk away from the Iraqi people and consign them to the horrendous violence, ethnic cleansing and possibly genocide that would follow a reckless, irresponsible and premature withdrawal.”

And about the fight against Al Qaeda:

”Those who claim we should withdraw from Iraq in order to fight Al Qaeda more effectively elsewhere are making a dangerous mistake. Whether they were there before is immaterial. Al Qaeda is in Iraq now. If we withdraw prematurely, Al Qaeda will survive [and] proclaim victory … Civil war in Iraq could easily descend into genocide, and destabilize the entire region as neighboring powers come to the aid of their favored factions. I believe a reckless and premature withdrawal would be a terrible defeat for our security interests and our values.”

He does a nice job of summing up the multiple moral and strategic reasons for staying in Iraq until the nation is closer to stability. Now, no one, not even John McCain, is claiming that there is ultimately a militaristic solution. The solutions are diplomatic BUT without security there will be no advance in diplomacy or stability. And to achieve security, our forces are still needed.

Just look what’s happening in Basra now that the British have washed their hands of the city. Similarly, violence is spiking in Baghdad in areas where we’re withdrawing the first combat brigade.

You can argue that we are not morally culpable for what the Iraqis do to themselves and you can argue that our presence in Iraq is in no way making our nation safer, but it’s getting increasingly difficult to argue that our absence from Iraq will somehow improve matters. In fact, evidence indicates that, when we go, the nation will descend back into violence. The consequences of that violence are unknown but to think an unstable Iraq won’t directly impact our national security is to misunderstand the importance of the region.

Going into Iraq was a mistake. Leaving Iraq prematurely may be a bigger one.