United States must learn to choose its battles and land management strategies in foreign countries

The U.S. has dealt an imperialistic card to Iraq.

I hope the U.S. government will not discount the potential power of Muqtada al-Sadr. Adolf Hitler, before he became chancellor of Germany, was a malcontent and agitator; his small party grew into a large controlling party that eventually consumed Germany and other nations. I am also concerned about the murder warrant on al-Sadr. I wonder whether such a warrant is comparable to an organized crime ring “hit” order. If it is, and if al-Sadr is singled out and eliminated, he will effectively be martyred and his following will resolve all the more to combat coalition forces.

One correspondent suggested that there should be a definite plan to get out of Iraq – an endgame strategy intended to produce a decisive blow to the “enemy” and thereby win the war.

Conventional thinking suggests that winning is only accomplished by defeating the enemy militarily. This pattern of thought failed in Operation Desert Storm and in the Vietnam War. While Iraq was put undertow for a little while, the United States and others found reason to go back into Iraq 13 years after the first attempt to control it as an agitating and (perceived) terrorist nation. It seems administration officials lack perspective in terms of what a David can do to its Goliath.

The whole war issue is more than consternating. Had the current president simply come out and said, “Iraq is a hotbed of torture and other actions by the state that are inhumane to its denizens,” he would have more credibility. The question of whether weapons of mass destruction were a credible threat to the United States remains: If they were known to exist, why were Special Forces not sent in to remove them upon learning of their presence?

Those who consider themselves Republicans should take a step back to ask questions such as these. They are crucial to management of a sound and democratic republic and world community. This said, al-Qaida is the true threat to the Western world. If military and intelligence community force must be used, going after al-Qaida appears to be the best use of manpower and resources. While our soldiers are now returning home as heroes, the war in Iraq is not unlike the war in Vietnam.

In the Vietnam conflict, the United States and other ANZUS forces (the South Pacific counterpart of NATO) went in to secure a strategically sensitive area threatened by the potential incursion by communist China. Various resources, including oil in the Mekong Delta, were also at risk and of interest to the West. That war was a result and offshoot of France’s colonial mismanagement of Indochina and its ineffectual attempt to protect French colonies from communists and other regional forces.

This said, and given the al-Sadr/Hitler comparison, it would be wise for the United States to do a better job of choosing its battles and methods of land management in other countries. It appears, and with no intention to use a cliche, the United States seems to have dealt an imperialistic card to its allies and against the people of Iraq.

Weapons of mass destruction were not effectively identified before the United States and others went in after them and Iraq’s president. Iraq contains the second-most prominent reserve of natural oil in the world. While the United States would do well to have access to that oil, a lie by a president should not be grounds for the deaths of U.S. soldiers and support, and the deaths of noncombatant Iraqi civilians.

The United States and other nations would do well to analyze whether private enterprise is intentionally, or otherwise, effectively creating a subservient nation for the benefit of local colonies and Western economies. If the answer to this is a resounding “yes,” then we would also do well to recognize the fleeting nature of hostile colonies in the history of our “civilized” world. They don’t last until the target community comfortably opens up to the presence of related international governmental and nongovernmental organizations and corporations.

Barry N. Peterson is a 1996 graduate of the College of Liberal Arts. His interests are in world affairs, public health and business development. Send comments to [email protected]