Category Archives: Africa

Providing Stability in the Congo

In the past few months tensions have flared again in the Western region of Congo. A lawless place with little to no government control, this region has often been called the “wild west”. Congo has consistently had problems with rebels in its western territories, especially since the Rwanda genocide in 1996. A few years ago, the region calmed down with the aid of the UN, AU peace keepers, and a cease fire with the rebels, but those tensions have flared again as the rebels have soundly defeated the Congo army.

Most significant is the tacit support that the rebels are reportedly receiving from Rwanda. Many speculate that the continued support is a continuing revenge response by the Tutsi’s against Hutu’s living in Congo.

While nothing that occurs in Africa surprises me anymore, I doesn’t make sense to me why the Rwandan government would stir the hornets nest of violence and rebellion right outside of their border. Their President, Paul Kagame, is a bright man, forward looking, and has done a lot of good restoring Rwanda and making it one of the brightest locales of freedom and relative economic prosperity in Africa. Mr. Kagame has been lauded by Western governments and has the full support of the United States and European Union.

I suspect that if this rebellion is being funded out of Rwanda, that the support is not coming from the top, but from either lower Rwandan government or military officials or from non-governmental groups. Regardless of the source of support, this poses a huge danger to Rwanda’s increasing prosperity.

As has been evidenced by multiple African wars and disputes in the last half century, wars quickly spill over into neighboring countries. If the issue in the Congo continues to escalate it is quite feasible that Uganda and Rwanda will be forced into it. This is the last thing those countries, Africa, and the world need.

So what is to be done? I call for an international peace keeping force lead by the UN in concert with the African union to deploy to western Congo. They should be given authority to engage in combat, but only when they are engaged upon and under orders. Their primary mission should be to be a presence of stability and encouragement for the millions of civilians who have been forced from their homes. They should have the authority to stop tribal violence where they find and be tasked with assisting the distribution of food, medical supplies, and building infrastructure (to a minimal extent).

This is one location where the example of America’s recent strategy in Iraq can be partially implemented. That is, there is strength in numbers and soldiers given proper orders and instructions and deployed to the appropriate areas can be a huge benefit to regional stability and development. It is highly unlikely that the Congo rebels would attack international troops, aside from the occasional skirmish, which would be inevitable. They know that if they did, they would likely have the muscle of the international community fall upon them.

Ideally, the troops who deploy there would be a fairly standard UN force. It would be unlikely the United States could provide any significant number of troops, but that does not mean the United States should be excluded. On the contrary, the U.S. would arguably be the most important player from the international community. The U.S. is the only country that currently has the ability to deploy rapidly and to maintain an effective logistical supply chain to anywhere in the world. The U.S. should provide a majority of the logistical support, to include the use of C-130’s and other supply aircraft. The U.S. can also provide a significant number of multi-purpose vehicles and aircraft that can provide logistical, medical, rapid deployment, and attack support; tools like the Chinook and the Bradley.

Sadly, this conflict in the Congo is just another “issue” with Africa. The cycle of violence is so common place that it is difficult to be optimistic that something positive can be done to alter it. It is very easy for us in the comforts of the West to just shrug our shoulders and say, “well, that is Africa”. But that is wrong. There are too many places in Africa that showing hope and development for us to turn a blind eye now. Places like Botswana, Rwanda, Kenya (despite the violence a year ago), Ghana, and even Liberia. The U.S., EU, Russia, and China should all promote those places and provide support where appropriate. Because in the same way that violence spills across borders, so does prosperity. With good governance and self-criticism and reliance, Africa can stabilize. It won’t be anytime soon, but there is hope and it should be built upon and encouraged.

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African Countries Better Than Zimbabwe

In an interview that was released last week, a Western reporter had the rare fortune to interview Robert Mugabe, the President of Zimbabwe.  While defending his country and his record he said something along the line of “Aside from South Africa, name me one African country that is better off economically than Zimbabwe?”  Sadly, but for reasons I understand, the reporter didn’t take the bait.  So I will do so here, if only to point out that Zimbabwe is about on par with Somalia in terms of livable countries and is a rat hole. (Data from CIA World Factbook, 2008)

Stats are in the order of: GDP Real Growth Rate (RGR), GDP Per Capita (PPP), Unemployment (UE), Poverty (P), Life Expectancy (LE), and AIDS Prevalence (AIDS)- Bold indicates significant stats.

Zimbabwe- RGR: -6%, PPP: $500, UE: 80%, P: 68%, LE: 39.5 yrs, AIDS: 24.6%

Botswana- RGR: 4.7%, PPP: $14,700, UE: 23.8%, P: 30.3%, LE: 50.5 yrs, AIDS: 37.3%
Zambia- RGR: 6%, PPP: $1,400, UE: 50%, P: 86%, LE: 38.44 yrs, AIDS: 16.5%
Namibia- RGR: 4.5%, PPP: $5,200, UE: 5.3% (is that right?), P: NA, LE: 43.11 yrs, AIDS: 21.3%
Mozambique- RGR: 7.5% PPP: $900, UE: 21%, P: 70%, LE: 40.9 yrs, AIDS:12.2%
Rwanda- RGR: 6%, PPP: $1,000, UE: NA, P: 60%, LE: 48.99, AIDS: 12.2%

Looking at this data, it can be difficult to separate Zimbabwe from some of their neighbors, however the most telling statistic is Zimbabwe’s -6% growth rate for 2007, while all of her immediate neighbors are growing at at least 4.5 % annually.  Additionally, one statistic that is not included above due to its lack of inclusion in the World Factbook is inflation rate.  Zimbabwe currently has the worlds highest inflation, upwards of 100,000%.  (Note, I included Rwanda in list above to show a country that was in the midst of Genocide just about 10 years ago to demonstrate how some are rising, while Zimbabwe is falling).

The Factbook also ranks countries based on various stats, let’s look at how some African Countries rate on the economic indicators above: (Where the country stands in World Rankings is the number given)

GDP Real Growth Rate
Best in Africa: Angola – #4
Botswana: #118
Zimbabwe: #217
Worst in Africa: Zimbabwe (Only Gaza and the West Bank are worse in the World)

GDP Per Capita
Best in Africa: Equitorial Guinea- #12 ($44,100, Gotta love that Oil!)
Botswana: #74
Zimbabwe: #229 (2nd to last in the World)
Worst in Africa: Congo, Democratic Republic of, #230

Unemployment
Best in Africa: Namibia, #63
Botswana: #170
Zimbabwe: #197 (3rd from last in the world)
Worst in Africa: Liberia, #198

So, Mr. Mugabe, it is pretty clear that you have completely destroyed your country over the last ten years. A country that was once the bread basket of Africa is now worse than Somalia and Sudan on nearly every level. What a mightly fall Zimbabwe has taken.

Robert Mugabe is among the worst people in the world, yet he refuses to recognize his own ineptitude and the realities that his country faces. Right next door in Botswana is Africa’s new shining star. They certainly have their own issues, like dealing with AIDS, but they are improving. Mugabe and the rest of Africa would do well to look at the Botswana model and apply it themselves.

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Part II-War, National Interest, and Iraq

Last week I wrote about the first part of the following quote.  In the piece, I discussed reasons we went to War in Iraq, why we are still there, so on and so forth.  It came to my attention that it was really long and so with Part II today, I will attempt to keep it considerably shorter.  Now let’s address the 2nd sentence of the comment below. 

I guess my problem is I can’t honestly justify attacking a country for its oil when there are so many worse countries and regimes around the world. The situation in Darfur is much worse than it ever was in Iraq, and we don’t do something about it why?

There are two ways to address this sentence about Darfur and that is to discuss why we don’t get involved in Darfur due to interests (or lack thereof) and also to address the utter hypocricy by those who use this as a counter argument for Iraq.

First, let’s answer the question.  The hard and cold truth is we aren’t going into Sudan militarily because we have no interests there and because Sudan poses no threat to the outside world.  If you think that justifying war in Iraq was difficult, wait until you have to justify war in Sudan.  The reality, as cold and sad as it may be, is that Iraq and the Middle-East is of great interest and value to us and to the civilized world.  First and foremost they provide the world’s energy needs.  That is the only reason we have any relationship of a significant value with that part of the world.  If they didn’t have oil or natural gas we would treat and view them no differently than we do Mali or Chad. 

Today, admitting the fact that oil is a national interest and adding that it should be draws the gasp of millions people.  But why shouldn’t it be, we need it, the world needs it, and the middle-east has it.  But, people say, we are exploiting those people and making their lives worse. B.S., they and their governments are what determines whether or not their lives suck; how that money is used and spent is entirely up to them. I don’t see the UAEers or Kuwaitis complaining.  But I digress.

I completely understand the desire some have for more action in Darfur.  I have a great fascination for Africa, it is my favorite region to study.  I wish so much that we had the means and justification to use force to end genocide and ethnic cleansing. I remember studying the Rwanda genocide and then watching Hotel Rwanda and just being so disgusted with the actions of the western World and the inaction of the UN.   As I pondered those things, I realized the catch-22 the United States is in.  On the one hand, we are the world’s most powerful and prosperous nation.  Our people enjoy immense freedom and partake of democracy, don’t we have an obligation to help and defend those who can’t help and defend themselves?  I wish the answer were ‘yes’ and in a perfect world, we would do so.  But unfortunately, we just can’t do it.  First, if we did start getting involved militarily, where does it end?  Are we going to attack Sudan, then Uganda, Nigeria, Somalia, Eritrea, Myanmar, Zimbabwe, etc?  We would be involved everywhere and undoubtedly, both sides of the conflict would wish we would go home.

Second, we have limited resources, just because we have the largest military in the world, doesn’t mean we have the ability to fight multiple wars on multiple fronts.  Third, the entire world would be outraged and we would have no support.  We can’t force democracy through the barrell of a gun, no matter how much we may want to.  The sad reality is that there is only so much we have the ability to do and only so much we can legally do. 

This brings me to the hypocricy of those that make comments like this.  There are two hypocricies herein.  First, they imply the argument that that we should leave Iraq to go stop a genocide in Africa, they try to come across as so compassionate and caring about human rights, yet they they either fail to realize or blatantly ignore the fact that if we leave Iraq too soon, we would inevitably have a human rights crisis created in Iraq.  All of these people who say we need to get out of Iraq also claim to care about freedom and human life, yet are ok with us pulling out to make a political point and indicting Bush, all the while creating a major humanitarian crisis.  Fixing one humanitarian crisis while creating another one does not sound like a productive move to me.

The second hypocricy is that people who make comments like this want us to think they would actually support military action in Sudan.  This is utterly ridiculous.  These people will yell and scream for us to leave Iraq and say that we should be helping in Sudan, if we actually did it and sent our military in there, they would call us murderers, empirialists, etc.   Straight hypocricy. 

Finally, as I said earlier I have great affinity for Africa.  What is occurring in Sudan and other parts of that continent break my heart and is very sad.  The U.S. does need to do more, but we also need to do more smartly.  Throwing money at it won’t help.   I personally believe that this should be a EU and UN matter.  It was European countries who colonized that continent and they have a significant amount of blame on their shoulders.  The UN needs to allow their peacekeeping forces to use force when necessary, just minor force.  Peacekeepers are worthless if they can’t do anything to keep the peace.  We also need to put much more pressure on the African Union.  Most of the responsibility falls on the backs of those people and countries who surround Sudan. 

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Africa’s Vicious Cycle Continues

There is something inherently wrong with Africa.  It seems that no matter how much a country in Africa, specifically sub-Saharan Africa,  progresses at some point it all falls apart and returns to what Africa is apparently used to being: a land of chaos.  I suppose there is a reason it is called the “Dark Continent” and it has nothing to do with the color of the skin of a majority of the people. 

I have a great fascination with Africa and in terms of political/social desires, there is nothing that I would rather see than a generally stable and prosperous Africa.  What a sight that would be to behold.  A continent so ripe with conflict and war, being able to rise above it and enter into the developed world while providing relative peace and prosperity for even the poorest of people. 

In the 80s and 90s it appeared that there was a shift towards this vision.  While many countries continued to reside in hell (Somalia, Sudan, Rwanda), many were stablizing and becoming prosperous.  However, today many of those same countries are or look as if they are regressing and being trapped by the grasp of ethnic strife and war once again or, at least, are in the grip or totalitarian leaders who are destroying their country.

There are three countries that come to mind that have fallen into this trap.  In the 80’s and early 90’s the Ivory Coast was often considered Africa’s shining star.  An example of openness and relative prosperity, however today it is embroiled by war and strife.

Even worse, and I would argue the most serious, is Zimbabwe.  Zimbabwe had a burgeoning economy and was Africa’s breadbasket.  They too were among the most prolific examples of African prosperity all while under the same leader they have today, Robert Mugabe.  Yet around 1998 something snapped in Mugabe (or at least that is how it seems to me), perhaps he became paranoid of losing his power, but he instituded terrible economic reforms and has continued to do so since.   As a result, Zimbabwe is arguably the worst country in Africa, or at least the worst country that was somewhat prosperous a decade ago (it is hard to compare Zimbabwe with Somalia, a country that has always been in chaos).   And through all of this, Mugabe and his government refuse to recognize that it was their policies that caused this devastation. 

Perhaps the most disappointing is what is currently going on in Kenya.  Kenya WAS as late as last fall Africa’s proud country.  The one that Africa could show the world the potential they have.  Granted, things have never been as prosperous as the West there, but they were a far sight better than most of the rest of Africa and became the standard bearer of success.  Yet, for some reason, Africa’s nature would not let it be.  Just like with the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe (and throw Nigeria in there), Africa is pulling Kenya back to what it is apparently supposed to be; Chaotic. 

As a result of a contested and likely corrupt election, huge swaths of minority tribal people are dissatisfied and are partaking in ethnic cleansing of the Kikuyu people.   It is in sharp parallel with the Rwanda genocide in 1994, except that it has not overtaken the whole country.   All is not lost yet in Kenya however, the President can take a nearly unprecedented step for Africa and step up and either resign and call for new elections or bring all sides together and forge a new political and power sharing agreement.  But even this is no guarantee of success. 

What a complete shame and disappointment.  Will there ever be a country in Africa that will be able to rise above the fray and stay there?  I don’t know, but there are reasons for optimism.   Right now, Botswana is doing incredibly well.  They have a stronger economy and higher GDP than even South Africa (last I checked) and have a stable, though relatively totalitarian government.  Their biggest issue is AIDS; an issue that can easily bring down the country. 

Ghana, too, is a strong country with decent leadership, though with it’s own corruption issues.  However, what Africa needs immediately is stability and security, they can deal with corruption later, but stability is essential for international investment, key to fixing Africa. 

So the question now becomes, can Botswana or Ghana continue it’s rapid rise?  Can countries recently embroiled in strife, yet now seemingly out of it and improving, like Liberia and Uganda, continue to hold together it’s fragile stability?  Or will the curse of Africa strike again and tear these down.  My guess is that only one or two of them make it out alive and I would put my money on Botswana and Liberia. 

Africa is a sad yet fascinating place.  One that probably has so much more to offer in terms of U.S. national interest (which it takes for the U.S. to care about truly helping a country) than we realize.  The question is, will any country there stablize enough for us to find out?  Will the tribes put aside their differences for the good of the whole?  I doubt it.  Certainly a small handful of countries can pull it off, but as a whole Africa looks doomed with little hope.  I pray that I am wrong, but this latest failure in Kenya shows that chaos and genocide are only a moment away.

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Is Obama OK with Genocide in Iraq?

Barack Obama up until now has been a strange enigma in my mind.  On the one hand, he is among the most left-wing senators in our country and I completely disagree with him on most of his policies.  On the other hand, he seems to be a genuine and honest person.  He does not seem to be overly tainted by Washington politics…yet.  And he is generally likeable and charming.   I have wondered if the race for President came down to Giuliani v. Obama, would I really consider voting for Obama?   Me, a right-wing conservative?   Well, up to last week, the answer was yes, I would consider it (though not likely).    

Anyone who reads this site fairly regularly is aware that I believe that success in Iraq is essential to U.S. national security, U.S. long-term interests, and to the preservation and rebirth of America’s image world-wide.   I have also argued that if the sole reason we stay in Iraq is for humanitarian reasons alone it would be worthwhile and justified.    So, when I read the comments of Mr. Obama on Iraq last week, you could imagine my extreme disappointment.  He essentially said that maintaining troops in Iraq for humantiarian problems and preventing Genocide in Iraq is not enough of a reason to keep our troops there

Now before I get into his justifications for this remark and my interpretation of what he is saying, allow me to interject something about what the Left (of whom he is a significant part) is suppossed to be about.   The left continually supports human rights and life, they are suppossed to be the U.S. humanitarians, they support Amnesty International, condemn U.S. actions across the world that are remotely deemed as insensitive and hurtful, and they are currently staging a large advertising campaign to raise awareness for the genocide in Darfur.  Aside from Obama’s obvious lack of understanding about the realities of the War, this is what is most disappointing in him.  He and candidates of his party should hold the line that they don’t agree with the war, they believe that political success is highly unlikely, but if only to save lives we should maintain a presence in Iraq.  Very disappointing and really causes the left to lose even more credibility.

Now, back to Obama’s specific statement.  Is he saying that the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people is not as important as the loss of another 1-2 thousand American lives?   That is what it sounds like to me.  Many of you may think that 1-2 thousand more American lives are not worth it, but personally I think that is sad.  In a situation like this in Iraq that we essentially created, I personally would be willing to make such a sacrifice, and when I signed my name on the dotted line to join the Military, that is exactly what I said I was willing to do. 

To emphasize his point Obama said the following:

 “Well, look, if that’s the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now—where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife—which we haven’t done,” Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.

“We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven’t done. Those of us who care about Darfur don’t think it would be a good idea,” he said.

What a completely stupid and asinine argument.  It infuriates me that he could be this short-sighted and moronic.  The problem with his argument is that we had nothing to do with the problems in the Congo and Sudan.   We did not cause them.  In Iraq, we are the reason the Iraqi’s are in the situation they are, for good or bad.  Al Qaeda in Iraq is there because we ousted Saddam and they see an opportunity to take advantage of the situation in attempt to earn themselves another country from which to field their operations.  We have an obligation to the Iraqi people to help them and protect them from people who commit atrocities like those AQI has committed.  We have no such obligation for Sudan or Congo.  

Further, regarding the deployment of US forces his argument is off on the wrong foot immediately.  Our troops are already deployed there for a military engagement mission.  The humanitarian crisis in Iraq is in no way the basis for our deployment there, but it should be part of the mission now that we are there.   He is right that we should not engage in war or deploy troops solely for such reasons, but that is hardly applicable to the situation in Iraq.  Thus, he has a complete lack of understanding of what is happening there and what our mission is.  Obama then added the following:

It is my assessment that those risks (of genocide) are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions,” he said.

Wow, what can I say here?  I am almost speechless. He is wrong, wrong, wrong.  If we left too early AQI, Iran, and other groups would push into Iran harsher and faster to establish a new Taliban like state, to build a new Islamic Republic, or just to gain political power at the expense of anyone who stands in their way.  These groups are not just there to attack Americans, they are smarter than that.  When they see our weakness and wavering they push harder and are more ruthless, but the one thing remotely holding them back is the presence of American troops.  For evidence of this read Michael Yon’s blog.

I am extremely disappointed in Barack.  I recognize that he is a politician and is trying to earn votes, but this is unacceptable.  Primarily because it is a poor and not-thought-out argument.  It makes him look ill-suited to serve as commander-in-chief and leader of the free world.

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Criticism of the Anti-Iraq movement; the Case for Iraq part II

The phrase “anti-war movement” is a stupid phrase.  Everyone should be anti-war.  I am against War, I wish we could avoid it, I wish people did not have to die; but sometimes it is necessary.  As a result, I will refer to those who are known as anti-War as anti-Iraq.  Those who are against the current military situation in Iraq (it is not a War by the way, despite what Bush or Pelosi want to call it) usually have asinine and ridiculous arguments against it.  We all know what they are, so I am not going to bother rehashing them.  Why? because their arguments can all be broken down to two things:  emotion and our reason for being in Iraq in the first place.

Let’s start with Emotion.  The biggest reason why so many people can’t take the arguments of the “anti-Iraq” movement seriously (even if they support withdrawl of the troops) is because the anti-Iraqis’ arguments are based on emotion and not on rationality or reason.  Watch a YouTube video of anti-Iraq folks, actually listen to the arguments they make, or even just have a conversation with one while playing devil’s advocate and supporting Bush;  they will see bulging blood vessels and red faces and hear childish name-calling and irrational conspiracy theories, these from otherwise normal and rational people.  It is amazing.

The problem with allowing excess emotion to dictate your argument is that it prevents one from looking at the big picture and attempting to look objectively at the current situation we are in.  Every argument against Iraq is premised on our reason’s for being in Iraq in the first place.  It is argued that Bush lied, there were no WMD’s, etc etc.  Whether those things are true or not doesn’t matter.  The reasons for which we went to Iraq in the first place is completely irrelevant to where we go from here, completely irrelevant.  Why we are there does not change the fact that we are there.  We can’t go back and change the past, we have to make do with the situation we now face.   So let’s ask some questions and attempt to answer them honestly and rationally:

If we withdrew from Iraq today…

…what would happen to the U.S. image world-wide? Would it become worse or be better than it now is?

… what would be the plight and future of the Iraqi people?

… what would happen to the Iraqi government?  Will maintain democracy?

… what impact would such a move have on the security of the greater Middle-East?  Who would it help, who would it harm (if anyone)?

… what impact would it have on terrorist movements across the World?  Would the US be safer from Terrorist attacks?

… what would Iran and Syria do?  Would Iran attempt to install an Islamic government based on their theocracy?  If so, is that a bad thing?

… would Iraq fall into full civil war that would evolve into another Somalia or Sudan?

… what would happen to the booming economies in the Northern (Kurdish) and Southern parts of Iraq? 

… who would control the oil? Would the Iraqi people benefit from it?

… what do China and Russia do?  Do they seek to exert their influence more?

… what economic impact does it have on the US?  Does it promote or denigrate American economic interests and influence throughout the World?

When I look at these questions and try to answer them as a student of International Relations and not as a political commentator, I cannot see a positive outcome for the United States in any of them.  Undoubtedly, the terrorists would be encouraged and have more resolve, just look at the way they treated Mogadishu in 1993, they still use that in propoganda, imagine what they would do with Iraq.   We would completely lose all credibility in the international community; we may only have a little now, but we still have some, it would be gone if we left.  Other’s would know we were weak and timid and do not follow through.  It would be the beginning of the end for the U.S. as a world power.

Some of you may say, “so what, why do we need to be a world power?”  That is an understandable question, but now ask yourself, “if it were not the US, who would it be?” There are three possible answers: 1. China – a communist country who denies its citizens freedoms and is a human-rights disaster; 2. Russia – a country headed back into communism, ruthless; 3. No one would really step up and non-governmental groups, like terrorists, would stage coups and attempt to impose their will on people across the world, primarily in 3rd world places like Africa.  None of these answers are nearly as good as having the US as at least one of the world’s superpowers. Despite our many failings, we are still a democratically elected country – no matter how much a person may despise Bush, at least they know that his time is limited, and that is more than the Chinese, Russians, or Iranians can say.  We still have a strong moral compass and our economic system, despite imperfections, has spurred economic growth through out the world, from Europe to Asia.  And, finally, we still are there to help others when times get tough, we provide more humanitarian support than anyother country in the World, not only that but our military prowess allows countries like Canada, Netherlands, and New Zealand to live in peace and prosperity without having to build huge militaries and defenses, they know that we have their backs and will protect them if needed. 

Certainly, if we pulled out early from Iraq, we would still have some influence in the World, I do not want to say that we will become like Canada or Norway (nothing against those countries, their influence is just minimal. I love Canada, I lived there for two years; it is a wonderful place).  But certainly we would be harmed indefinitely.  There is absolutely no good that can come out of our early departure from Iraq.  So regardless of how loud the anti-Iraq movement is, from both the Left and the Right, realize that this is arguably the most important endeavor we have been in since WWII.  Why we went there is irrelevant, we are there, so let’s finish the job and make the world a better place.

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I Feel Like I’m Taking Crazy Pills: The U.S. Role in Iraq

I firmly believe that what we are doing in Iraq is now essential to the future stability of the Middle-East and to U.S. credibility world-wide. I can go on and on about stability, economic development, political agreements, and national interests in the region to justify why we must be successful in Iraq. But none of these are as important as the humanitarian aspect at the local levels of Iraqi society. While I may be considered to be a cold-hearted and greedy conservative, the truth is, is that I genuinely care about the plight of others and want all people to be safe and taken care of. Now, especially in the U.S., I usually put that responisbility in the hands of that individual, I am all about self-reliance. However, I also have a huge soft spot for the neediest among us in the world, especially those who are indiscriminantly raped, killed, exploited, or simply cannot defend themselves. We Americans as “The World’s Light and Hope” should do more in the Sudan and should have done more in Rwanda and Somalia and in many other areas around the world. I understand that none of those places have any sort of national interest for us and that our resources are limited and thus, our efforts need to be prioritized, but there is always something more we can do. The situation in Iraq is much the same, except there are huge national interests there.

I write all of this because I just finished reading Michael Yon’s piece called Bless the Beasts and Children and I realized how seemingly insignificant much of what I write on here is. This article is a must read for every American. We need to see the horror that terrorist and insurgent groups in Iraq are performing against the Iraqi people. Groups like Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) are massacring entire towns and indiscriminately bombing average Iraqi people, regardless of their religious beliefs or political affiliation. I will not attempt to cover it as well as Michael Yon, I hope you all take 10 minutes today to read that piece. If our only mission over there was to protect the Iraqi people it would be a noble and worthwhile mission. Fortunately, we are trying to improve so much more and thus, I am more convinced than ever that our continued presence in Iraq is essential.

Some will come back and argue that the reason those things are happening is because we are there and if we leave they will end. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Certainly these terrible things would not be occurring at the hands of AQI if Saddam were in power, but he was doing much the same anyway. The difference is, is that there is a means to now publicize these things as opposed to when Saddam was in power. The fact is, if we leave too soon Iraq will become another Somalia. Where tribal radicals will continue to kill indiscriminately without fear of reprisal. We Americans are such worry warts and we get riled so quickly by “every wind of doctrine (or political propaganda)” that we fail to ever see the big picture. Do not any of you realize how impressive it is that only about 3,300 American soldiers have been killed in a war that has already lasted 4 years? It is incredible and says a ton about the quality of the US Soldiers, Airmen, Seamen, and Marines. This number of deaths was not uncommon in a day or a week in Vietnam and that was just 30-40 years ago. Certainly every American killed over there is a tragedy and should be mourned, but we should praise their sacrifice and our military for limiting such deaths.

When I think about Iraq, regardless of the reason for being there which is really inconsequential now, I often feel like Mugatu from Zoolander when, referring to all of Derrek’s looks being the same thing, he says, “I feel like I’m taking crazy pills.” I just don’t get why the American people are so blind, ok I do get it, but it is so frustrating and stupid; I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!

Anyway, I would rather all of you spend 10 minutes reading Michael Yon’s post and go to his site everyday, than I would have you on mine. As much as I want this site to blossom and succeed, his blog is far more important and I wish everyone would get the word out about it.

~Swint

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