Fly Now, Pay Later
George Packer argues in a special issue of the New Republic, Iraq: What's Next (behind a subscription link), that America now has no option but to accept defeat in Iraq. But he has no illusions about what that means to Iraqis.
I want to talk about something else.Withdrawal means that the United States will have to watch Iraqis die in ever greater numbers without doing much of anything to prevent it, because the welfare of Iraqis will no longer be among our central concerns. Those Iraqis who have had anything to do with the occupation and its promises of democracy will be among the first to be killed: the translators, the government officials, the embassy employees, the journalists, the organizers of women’s and human rights groups. As it is, they are being killed one by one. (I personally know at least half a dozen of them who have been murdered.) Without the protection of the Green Zone,U.S. bases, or the inhibiting effect on the Sunni and Shia militias of 150,000 U.S. troops, they will be killed in much greater numbers. To me, the relevant historical analogy is not the helicopters taking off from the roof of the U.S. Embassy in Saigon, leaving thousands of Vietnamese to the reeducation camps. It is the systematic slaughter by the Khmer Rouge of every Cambodian who appeared to have had anything to do with the West. If the United States leaves Iraq, our last shred of honor and decency will require us to save as many of these Iraqis as possible.
That wasn't hard to guess, now was it? The Belmont Club in Just Walk Away Renee predicted substantially the same thing less eloquently.
As a practical matter a lot of Iraqis who threw in their lot with America must now be thinking of secret ways to mend fences with whoever they believe will be in control after the US leaves. Those who can't are probably now considering whether appeals to some American they have come to befriend will help them leave when the time for the Last Helicopter comes to go. America would be best, but maybe Canada, maybe Britain, maybe Australia, maybe Romania, maybe Bulgaria will take them. No? well anywhere at all, then. Everyone comes to Casablanca.
What Packer does not address in his wonderful article is the point raised in the continuation of that same Belmont Club post. Withdrawing from Iraq will just move the killing elsewhere.
Everyone comes to Casablanca. Including al-Qaeda. This is going to be different because the enemy will pursue right back to mainstreet USA. Perhaps even on the tide of refugees that will be sure to ensue.
Of course it's impossible for the war to come home to America isn't it? How could the enemy attack America, or are we forgetting something just at the edge of our consciousness? The flaw in the argument over leaving Iraq is to assume that we have the option to leave the war. Consider Israel: it can't even leave Gaza. The World Net Daily describes the problem of dealing Qassam rockets that are being launched with increasing depth into Israel.
Since Israel withdrew from Gaza 15 months ago, Gaza-based Palestinian terror groups have fired hundreds of Qassam rockets at Jewish communities near the territory. Qassams are improvised steel rockets, about four feet in length, filled with explosives and fuel. They can travel between one and four miles depending on the sophistication of the particular rocket
The answer? After withdrawing from Gaza, withdraw deeper into Israel. And as the rockets gain in range, why then, withdraw even deeper.
Today, hundreds of children from Sderot were evacuated for a "weekend reprieve" in the southern resort town of Eilat. The brief vacation from Qassam attacks was paid for by an Israeli billionaire. Reports in the Israeli media say Sderot residents are ready to pack up and move to towns further from Gaza's current rocket range. Palestinian terror groups, though, say they are working to improve the distance their rockets can travel.
So what exactly is the next war in the Middle East probably going to be about? It will be about Israel going back into Lebanon and into Gaza to temporarily stop being rocketed from places from which they have withdrawn. By all means buy tickets for friendly Iraqis out Baghdad. But to play safe, make it round trip.