Rodman & Shawcross have a compelling, horrifying op-ed in today's New York Times. (h/t memeorandum) They describe the slaughter of millions that occurred after we left Viet Nam, and offer some persuasive arguments as to how the aftermath of our "defeat" in Iraq might be even more deadly. What they do not offer is a plan for victory.
We've been in Iraq longer than we were in WWII. Close to 33,500 U.S. Soldiers are dead. The cost of the war is somewhere between 450 Billion and 1 Trillion Dollars. Extrapolating from the Lancet figures, there would be about 760,000 Iraqi dead as of June 1.
It's easy to predict the horrors that will occur if we are "defeated," just as it was easy for many of us in 2003 to predict that our invasion would put us precisely in the disastrous situation that we are now in. There were plenty of assessments, assessments which
"spoke directly to the instability, conflict, and black hole for blood and treasure that over the past four years we have come to know as Iraq."
What is difficult, seemingly impossible, is to devise a plan that leads to a victory. Despite all the vicious protestations and assaults on the patriotism of war opponents, in fact this Administration has been given a completely free hand in its handling of Iraq. The singular positive result of this administration's strategy has been the removal of Saddam. By every other indicator, this war has made life worse for Iraqi people, and has made terrorist attacks against us more likely.
During the run-up to the war, and throughout the war itself, this administration has displayed an utter contempt for the truth. Add this to its disdain for diplomacy, and any possibility of finding a path to victory are destroyed.
Rodman and Shawcross are right that the future for the region is incredibly bleak as the result of our invasion of Iraq. Again today, Iraqi Kurds killed a few Turkish police, and the Turks are poised for massive retaliation. At least one U.S. soldier and one Brit were killed. Dozens of Iraqis killed in Baghdad. But the authors are more than four years too late in sounding the alarm.
Refusing to wake up will not end the nightmare.
(By the wary, haven't we been hearing for four years from supporters of the War that it is lunacy to compare Iraq with Viet Nam?)