A Response to Criticisms of Ron Paul’s Stand on the
War in Iraq
Michael T. Griffith
"If it weren't for Ron
Paul’s stand on the Iraq
War, I'd support him,"
I hear this statement frequently
from my fellow conservatives.
As a retired Army vet, please allow
me to tell you why I don’t think Ron Paul’s stand on the war in Iraq should be
a problem. We toppled Saddam Hussein. We enabled the Iraqis
to ratify a constitution and to elect a government. We’ve done our
part. The rest is up to the Iraqis. Now we're simply in the middle
of a civil war. With us out of the way, the Shiites and the Sunnis will
come to an arrangement, one way or the other.
We’ve given the Iraqi Shiites more
than enough time to get their act together. Everyone agrees that
sectarian violence in Iraq
is likely to continue unless there’s political reconciliation between the
Shiites and the Sunnis. However, Shiite
leaders, in and out of the government, have made it clear they have no
intention of doing what needs to be done to reconcile and share power with the
Sunnis. And who can forget the fact that the Iraqi parliament decided to
take a summer vacation this year rather than stay and pass the reconciliation
legislation that they’d been promising us they’d pass (and that they still
haven’t passed)? The whole purpose of
the surge was to give the Iraqis more time to bring about political
reconciliation. The surge began in early
July. Yet, incredibly, shortly
thereafter the Iraqi parliament went on a two-month summer break, while our
troops were out on the streets fighting and dying.
The Shiite-dominated government of Iraq has also
proven itself to be horribly corrupt and brutal (see below). The Sunni
and Kurdish members of the government aren’t much better. As just one
example of this sad truth, we need only point to the fact that last year the
Iraqi parliament voted unanimously to condemn Israel and to praise the terrorist
group Hezbollah. The Iraqi government continues to ignore the Iraqi
constitution, which calls for local autonomy and a sharing of power. Iraqi officials who have tried to expose
government corruption have either been killed, fled the country, or had to seek
protection (see below).
After billions of dollars and
thousands of man hours of training, the Iraqi army as a whole is still
unreliable when it comes to supporting American troops in their missions.
At times whole units still fail to show up for duty. Iraqi troops seem to
be able to perform missions they want to perform, but their efforts in
supporting our forces continue to be inconsistent at best. In some cases Iraqi soldiers have abandoned
our troops during battle. The Iraqi national police force, by all
accounts, is a disgrace. In some instances, Iraqi police have attacked
our troops. In countless cases, Iraqi citizens have stood back and said
nothing as insurgents have planted roadside charges and other bombs to kill our
troops. Yes, many Iraqis are on our side, but quite a few are not. A recent poll done in Iraq found that
over 50 percent of Iraqis think it’s ok to kill American soldiers.
The Iraq War is costing us at least
$10 billion a month. We’re having to borrow tens
of billions of dollars from foreign nations to pay for the war. Already
2007 is now the deadliest year for our troops since
the war began. We’ve had more troops killed and wounded this year than in
any previous year. I say it’s time we brought our troops home and let the
Iraqis determine their own future.
"If we leave Iraq, won’t the
country become a safe haven for Al Qaeda?”
This is improbable. The
Shiites are not likely to tolerate the presence of a Sunni paramilitary group,
which is what Al Qaeda is (in addition to being a terrorist
organization). Plus, everyone now admits that most of the violence in Iraq is being
caused by sectarian fighting, not by Al Qaeda attacks. Even General David
Petraeus acknowledged this fact in his testimony before Congress in
September. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq
until we entered the country.
"What will happen to the
Iraqi government if we leave?"
Any Iraqi government that emerges
is not going to be too much worse than the one that is in power right
now. No matter how many elections are held, the government is going to be
run by Shiites because the Shiites outnumber the Sunnis by at least three to
two. Even with the Kurds in the north taking part in the election, the
Shiites will still control the government.
The Kurds despise the Sunnis almost as much as the Shiites do. It was the Sunnis who formed Saddam’s power
base and who received preferential treatment from him. It was the Sunnis who helped Saddam brutalize
and oppress the Shiites and the Kurds.
The current Iraqi government is
just about as corrupt and brutal toward opponents as some of the other rotten
governments in the Middle East (see
below). For example, our own State Department has documented the fact
that the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has been operating death squads that
have killed untold numbers of Sunnis. When
you invade a Muslim country that has a long tradition of violence and
corruption, you're not going to get a government that's run by enlightened
democrats. Maybe we should have thought about that beforehand.
if Al Qaeda follows us here if we leave."
If Al Qaeda tries to follow us
here, we can fight them a lot more easily here than we can over there in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over there they
can easily blend in with the population. As long as we’re in the Middle East, they will be able to periodically kill and
injure our troops, as they’re doing now. Over here they'd find it a lot
harder to attack our troops or to stage other kinds of attacks.
In addition, with our troops gone,
the terrorists will have a harder time attracting new recruits. With our
troops in the region, Al Qaeda and other groups are able to rail against
“infidel invaders,” etc., etc. Experts on terrorism tell us that groups
like Al Qaeda would find it more difficult to gain new recruits if we had no
troops in the region. When we and the Israelis pulled out of Lebanon, the suicide attacks in Lebanon
"If we leave, will we still
be able to get oil from Iraq?"
Saddam Hussein was willing to sell
us oil. The current government of Iraq
is likewise willing to sell us oil. The
odds are that any future Iraqi government would be willing to do the same.
“I don’t want to see our troops come home in defeat.”
They would not be coming home in
defeat. Our troops toppled Saddam in
amazingly short time. They enabled the
Iraqi people to ratify a constitution.
And they enabled the Iraqis to elect their own government. There would be no valid reason for anyone to
say our troops were coming home in defeat.
Part of the problem is the Bush
administration’s rhetoric that if we bring our troops home before the
administration thinks we’ve achieved “victory,” then they’ll be coming home in
defeat. But, for one thing, the Bush
people really can’t tell anyone what “victory” in Iraq will look like. Does “victory” mean the absence of sectarian
violence? If so, that is a very
unrealistic goal for the foreseeable future.
The Shiites and the Sunnis have been fighting each other off and on for
hundreds of years. They are currently
locked in a civil war and will be battling each other for quite some time to
come. It would not be “defeat” to
withdraw our troops from the middle of a sectarian civil war. Does “victory” mean the absence of Al Qaeda
in Iraq? Well, Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq until we
toppled Saddam. In any case, as mentioned
above, it’s highly unlikely that the Shiites would tolerate the presence of a
Sunni paramilitary group like Al Qaeda.
If anything, with us gone, the Sunnis would know that they would risk
devastation by the Shiites if they allowed Al Qaeda to operate from Sunni
areas. Does “victory” mean the
establishment of a pro-western Iraqi government? This goal was questionable from the
outset. Would we call the current Iraqi
government a pro-western government, when its parliament recently voted
unanimously to praise the terrorist group Hezbollah, when the government has
lied to us repeatedly, when it has stolen from us, when it has refused to honor
our reasonable requests for reconciliation, when it has permitted (if not
encouraged) the persecution of Iraqi Christians, when it has killed or forced
into exile officials who have tried to expose government corruption, and when
the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior has been running death squads that have
killed thousands of Sunni Iraqis?
“How quickly would Ron Paul
withdraw our troops from Iraq?”
Ron Paul has made it clear that he
would only withdraw our troops from Iraq as quickly as was safely
possible. He has said he would consult with our military commanders to
determine how soon our troops could be safely withdrawn. He would change
our strategy immediately, in order to get our troops out from the middle of the
crossfire of sectarian fighting. But he would ensure that the troop
withdrawal from the country would be done in a safe manner.
Some Sobering Facts About the Iraqi Government
Here are some articles that should
sober us up to the fact that we shouldn't spend another dime, or lose another
life, or see another soldier wounded in Iraq. The Iraqi government is
not worth $10 billion a month, and it’s certainly not
worth seeing more American soldiers killed or wounded.
EXTRACT: "State Department
investigators in Iraq
have concluded that the government of Nouri al-Maliki is not capable of even
rudimentary enforcement of anti-corruption laws. The investigators also say
that corrupt civil servants with connections to the government are seen as
untouchable, and that employees of Iraq's watchdog Commission on
Public Integrity have been murdered in the line of duty." (September 2007)
EXTRACT: “Iraq's interior minister, Bayan Jabr, is a
member of Iraq's biggest
Shiite party, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq,
or SCIRI, which ran the Badr Brigade.”
EXTRACT: “. . . the Iraqi government and the Supreme Council for the
Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), which controls the Interior Ministry, for
trying to suppress information about the number of dead. The piece notes this
stunning fact: that Shiite death squads are killing
more people than the insurgents.”
EXTRACT: "The Iraqi government
led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has thwarted investigations into
corruption at the top levels of his administration, including probes of his
relatives, while nearly four dozen anti-corruption employees or their family
members have been brutally murdered, the former top Iraqi corruption
investigator told a House panel yesterday." (October 2007)
EXTRACT: "Iraq corruption
costs billion: Among its more notable findings was a report on the loss of
14,000 weapons destined for Iraqi government use. Many of these are believed to
have found their way into the hands of insurgent groups after the Pentagon lost
track of them." (November 2006)
EXTRACT: "U.S. Comptroller
General David M. Walker told Congress last week that "massive
corruption" and "a lot of theft going on" in Iraq's
government-controlled oil industry is hampering the country's ability to govern
itself." (July 2006)
Is Iraqi corruption classified?
Col. Dave Hunt says our Iraq strategy
is flawed. Although he doesn’t recommend a total withdrawal, he does
recognize that our strategy is fundamentally flawed and that we need to get our
troops out from the middle of the ongoing Iraqi civil war.
Articles on the
persecution of Christians in Iraq.
EXTRACT: “. . . Iraqi Christians
are being hunted, murdered and forced to flee -- persecuted on a biblical scale
religious civil war. You'd have to be mad to hold a Christian service in Iraq
today. . . .” (CBS News article, December 2, 2007)
EXTRACT: “. . . outgoing United Nations' human rights
chief in Iraq, John Pace,
revealed that hundreds of Iraqis are being tortured to death or summarily
executed every month in Baghdad
alone by the death squads working from the Ministry of Interior.”
the Ministry of Interior is well-known to be responsible for this kind of
summary execution and torture,’ Pace said, ‘and also the militias.’ Militias,
such as the Badr Brigades, work within the Interior Ministry. The U.S. ambassador to Iraq has pushed the Shiites in
power here to end the violence, but Bayan Jabr, a former commander in the Badr
Brigades militia, is minister of the interior -- and he denies there is a