In the December issue of Newsweek, Fareed Zakaria argued that Iraq was comparable to Vietnam. The only solution now for Zakaria is a pullout in the fashion of Kissinger after Vietnam, while trying to do the least amount of damage to America. O’Reilly, the infamous FOX News personality, says America must win the war, lest Iran fill a power vacuum with nostalgic thoughts of their Old Persian Empire. I have hope that we can come out of this war with a positive outlook in the Middle East. There is no way, as things have so far progressed, for America to have a victory in Iraq. The damage that has been done economically, socially and culturally in Iraq is so great that we can only salvage the bits and pieces—the memory of this war will on the hearts and minds of Iraqis for many generations to come. America looks like the bad guy—there is really no question about this in the Middle East. Sending in more troops is more reason for Islamic extremists to cry out against what they see as western colonial efforts to destroy Islam.
A newly entrenched democratic majority in congress flew in on the wings of an anti-war platform. Many congressmen and women have a vested interest in getting Americans out of Iraq. There is, however, a power vacuum that could be taken by countries such as Iran if America withdraws. O’Reilly’s argument here does hold merit in my eyes. Whispers occurring all over the American media speak of Bush wanting a war with Iran. This is all above my head, and I am no prophet. What we do know is that Iran is hurting. Iranians are upset that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who ran on a platform to end poverty, concentrates more on anti-West speeches than his own economy. A recent Newsweek Article suggests that vegetables have tripled in price in the last month. This should not just be dead information to American ears.
Perhaps what we need is not more wars, but a united effort with a coalition of Western and Arab countries who promise in good faith to help rebuild Iran. Instead of threatening and hard-lining the Iranian government Bush should call for meetings with Ahmadinejad. What we need is a kind of Arab Marshall Plan, a humanitarian aid plan with no strings attached. What is good for our neighbors, according to the laws of economics, is good for us. Promotion of international trade and the modernization of Iran (while at the same time respecting religious and cultural tradition of the Iranian people) is good for the West and the Middle East.
What will Ahmadinejad be left to say when Bush offers, along with a plethora of other countries, economic aid with no strings attached. There is currently no war going on in Iran. If we go in with a silent revolution, under only a humanitarian pretense, how can they call us the “great Satan?”
But fixing Iran does not solve the Iraq problem. The problem in Iraq is a much more serious threat because of the nature of the country. Due to many mistakes made by Rumsfeld and Bush, the country of Iraq is in shambles with power vacuums filled by such extremist leaders as Moqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army. What we must understand is that the between Sunni and Shi’ite was first a religious difference and then a cultural difference.
What Bush should really be looking for is not a powerful political leader, but a powerful religious leader who might have the ability to unite a politically divided Iraq. Following our own years of civil war in America, we wanted to bring the South to “justice.” The “radical republicans,” as they are now known, called for hard-line punishment of those who began the war in the South. The leaders took an “us vs. them” mentality. It was only by Lincoln and others after his death who allowed for forgiveness that the once split America was able to be reunited. We cannot take this mentality in Iraq. There is not an Iraqi and an American, there are only humans.
What Iraq needs is a Desmond Tutu or a Nelson Mandela—people who would be willing to work for the reconciliation of Iraq. More troops can keep the peace, but the power vacuum with always be there when we leave. The only way to fight a terrorist ideology is a better and more peaceful ideology that must be widely accepted in Iraq.
For this we must continue to hope and pray. A definitive leader, who can control both Sunni’s and Shi’ites, is in my estimation the only way to save and salvage Iraq.