A counterpoint to stopping the war

Fundamentalist jihadis exhibit no common sense or reason; they personify evil.

In last Thursday’s editorial “Stop the war: Here’s how,” the Daily editorial board took on a hot-button topic, but failed to provide a counterpoint. The editorial board fails readers by not providing a contrary editorial. I would like to do just that, given the editorial has very little factual content and is more emotion-based than an opinion which encourages debate.

The first paragraph, “Redefine our purpose and the enemy,” has several misstatements. The election in January 2005 was not “rushed.” Of the 18 provinces in Iraq, all 18 received electoral ballots and had registered voters. Even in the province where the jihadists are concentrated, the al-Anbar province, 52 percent of the registered voters made it to the polls. Secondly, the U.S. military is not “suppressing” Sunnis. The Central Provisional Authority and now the interim government allowed Sunni participation in the Constitutional Congress following their retraction of boycott in January 2005. I assume by the tone of the third paragraph that the editorial board is implying that the military is waging war against the Sunni population. From firsthand experience, this is simply wrong. The U.S. military is focused on the jihadists – most of whom are of the splinter Wahhabi sect.

The Shi’a have no intention “ethnically cleansing” Iraq’s Sunni population. As Iraqi President Talabani has repeatedly said, the Shi’a know what genocide was like under Saddam Hussein; they are not going to do the same. Closing the first paragraph, the editorial board states that “there are already signs the insurgency wants to talk peace.” Where’s the proof? Who in the insurgency? Do they mean to say that Zarqawi – who aligns himself with Osama bin Laden – wants to negotiate with the Iraqi government for peace? The same insurgency murdered 160 innocent Iraqis a few days ago – 120 of whom were killed by a suicide bomber who lured them by promising well-paying jobs. The second paragraph, “Set a limited timeline with gradual withdrawal,” is premised on the point that the Iraqi government cannot defeat the terrorists without the aid of the U.S. forces. This is factually wrong.

During the latest campaigns in Tall Afar and Tall Kay’f along the Syrian border, the U.S. to Iraqi force ratio was 3.8-to-5. The Iraqis had lead the operation; Iraqi battalions had air cover and support by their own Iraqi air force, highlighting a major step in combat and combat support missions. Just 10 months ago, U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces re-took Fallujah. There was only one Iraqi combat-ready battalion in that force. We know from experience in Vietnam that timelines allow the enemy to bide its time. The comment about separating the country clearly shows ignorance of the Iraqi constitution.

“Collapsing the terrorist haven” is written with no factual basis. Whom does the editorial board cite for statistics? I recently returned from the area and heard nothing of the kind. Is the editorial board relying on a mainstream poll that perhaps sampled 0.001 percent of the country in an area not as stable as say, An Najaf, Basrah, An Nasiriyah? The last paragraph provides a conclusion based on rhetoric, and little fact (except a poll that gives no real information – for example, I think President Bush needs to be far more aggressive with U.S. forces in Iraq. Does that mean I am against his handling of the war?). I have addressed the rhetoric in the factual points above. Americans cannot lose the will to fight. Each one of the casualties is a terrible loss; I know firsthand. The amount of forces lost in this war on terror does not equal the loss of U.S. troops during the first few hours of D-Day. Fundamentalist jihadis exhibit no common sense or reason; they personify evil. We have to fight and win, and if this means a 25-30 year tour of forces in Iraq, then Americans need to realize this, and regain the will to fight we all had following 9/11.

Patrick Weldon is a University student. Please send comments to [email protected]