OPINION: Getting out of Iraq

Leave the office furniture behind. It isn’t worth one soldier’s life

… we should aim to get our troops out safely, with their weapons intact. Weapons are important—we win more because of superior equipment than superior training or talent. That equipment is expensive, takes a long time to replace with our existing procurement system, and we might actually need it if we found ourselves in a war of necessity.

Second, we should forget about accomplishing anything else. If we couldn’t create a compliant Iraq with 150,000 troops, we won’t manage it with 50,000 or 20,000. Many of our presidential candidates—you can recognize them by the humps on their backs—are talking about retaining smaller numbers of troops in Iraq, hoping to achieve some political end or at least disguise defeat, but that pig won’t fly. Our forces are tremendously powerful (compared to the insurgents) and never lose battles, but leaving small residual forces in a fundamentally hostile country—a solid majority of non-Kurdish Iraqis now find attacks on coalition forces acceptable—is asking for trouble. The British tried that in Basra, and they took rocket and mortar fire every day while achieving nothing.

From this point of view, decisions about moving day become straightforward. For example, what should we do about the vast amount of non-combat materiel in Iraq? We’ve accumulated dentist chairs, chapel pews, swimming-pool filtration systems, office complexes, multimillion-dollar fitness centers, air-conditioners, refrigerators, prefab latrines, Coke machines, even 50-inch plasma TVs. We have stockpiles of 50-gallon oil drums full of battery acid, contaminated oil, and industrial solvents. We’re being told that it all has to be shipped home. I have a better idea: leave it all behind. I’m sure that the Army bureaucracy thinks that we’ve got to move these refrigerators, got to move these TV’s. They’re wrong. Maybe they fear that leaving a single vending machine behind means that they will have to personally answer to the Coca-Cola Company. [complete article]

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