Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Should we retreat from those darker corners of the world?

By John Sykes

Yesterday, in “Support our warriors … or bring them home!”, I wrote about the need to bring our warriors home if we can’t meet their needs. I said:

As I close, I need to scream that I hate war. It’s dirty. It’s dangerous. It’s frightening. I don’t believe I’ve met many warriors who would say anything different. But I do believe that those warriors would tell us to support them with wise leadership, sound tactics, reasonable rules of engagement,  and the will to win. If we can’t do that, we need to bring them home now!

Today I need to make it very clear that I am not advocating retreat so long as our presence in those darker corners of the world serves a valid strategic need and I think that that is so now in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

I still believe that we were in Viet Nam and now Afghanistan and Iraq for the right reasons. This country does need to support the freedom of others even if only to assure ours. But I actually think some of the best people in this country, those who show up in it’s uniforms, proudly go to war to help those women who can’t go to school because they’ll get poisoned, those kids who always seem to truly know what freedom is till it gets squashed out of them, those men who know that personal responsibility and a society in which to execute it is what gets you ahead in this world.

We also need to be in those conflicts because the further away from home that we can be is the best way to keep the conflict outside our borders. Is that fair to those who live where we are fighting? Yes – if the populace wants those freedoms we talk about. We will have to suffer through governments and politicians

What’s the catch? Patience, patience, patience. We let the press and the left move us out of Viet Nam after we had it won. We probably needed another 20 years. I suspect the same is true of Iraq and Afghanistan.

In “From WikiLeaks to the Killing Fields”, Bret Stephens at The WSJ writes:

As it happens, there is a defensible, if flawed, case for an American exit from Afghanistan. It is an argument based on a bloodless tabulation of economic and strategic costs and benefits, an argument about whether—as former Secretary of State James Baker was alleged to have said about the Balkans—the U.S. really has a dog in this fight. It is an argument that discounts considerations of American sacrifice and honor. It is an argument that is profoundly indifferent to whatever furies will engulf Afghanistan once the Taliban returns, as surely they will, provided the spillover effects are somehow contained…

But somewhere in the bowels of the State Department, somebody might want to think hard about the human consequences of American withdrawal. What happens to the Afghan women who removed their burqas in the late fall of 2001, or the girls who enrolled in government schools? What happens to the army officers and civil servants who cooperated with the coalition? What happens to the villagers who stood with us when we asked them to?

It is a peculiar fact of modern liberalism that its best principles have most often been betrayed by self-described liberals. As with Cambodia, they may come to know it only when—for Afghans, at least—it is too late.

So, as long as we give our warriors what they need, if we have the patience and it meets our strategic needs and those of the affected populace, we need to be in those darker corners of the world. If not, once again, we need to bring our warriors home.

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