A New, Bold Approach to Iraq

TIME.com: Why Iraq Was a Mistake — Apr. 17, 2006 — Page 1:

Ret. General Newbold:

“From 2000 until October 2002, I was a Marine Corps lieutenant general and director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. After 9/11, I was a witness and therefore a party to the actions that led us to the invasion of Iraq–an unnecessary war. Inside the military family, I made no secret of my view that the zealots’ rationale for war made no sense. And I think I was outspoken enough to make those senior to me uncomfortable. But I now regret that I did not more openly challenge those who were determined to invade a country whose actions were peripheral to the real threat–al-Qaeda. I retired from the military four months before the invasion, in part because of my opposition to those who had used 9/11’s tragedy to hijack our security policy. Until now, I have resisted speaking out in public. I’ve been silent long enough.”

“Before the antiwar banners start to unfurl, however, let me make clear–I am not opposed to war. I would gladly have traded my general’s stars for a captain’s bars to lead our troops into Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban and al-Qaeda. And while I don’t accept the stated rationale for invading Iraq, my view–at the moment–is that a precipitous withdrawal would be a mistake. It would send a signal, heard around the world, that would reinforce the jihadists’ message that America can be defeated, and thus increase the chances of future conflicts. If, however, the Iraqis prove unable to govern, and there is open civil war, then I am prepared to change my position.”

Finally someone who talks plain sense. I wondered how going after a should-a, would-a, could-a ally of al-Qaeda was equivalent to eliminating the actual, original threat: Osama bin Laden and the organization he leads. Instead of a president who “doesn’t spend much time thinking about” one of the America’s mortal enemies, I’d prefer one who will dispatch this threat with prejudice.