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Regrets Over How We got there Irrelevant to Discussion Over Strategy for Iraq

  • Regrets Over How We got there Irrelevant to Discussion Over Strategy for Iraq

  • 15 July 2007 by 0 Comments

Regrets Over How We got there Irrelevant to Discussion Over Strategy for Iraq
By Richard Larsen
Published – Idaho State Journal, 07/15/07

My memories growing up on a potato farm on the desert west of Blackfoot are mostly favorable, and the lessons learned there will last a lifetime. I do, however, have a few bad memories.

One such recollection is spending a couple of hours with my father welding a steel mainline that had been leaking. When we had completed the repair and I had lowered the mainline back into the ground with the front-end loader, I disconnected the chain and hopped back onto the tractor to return to the shop in eager anticipation of returning home for dinner. Just before my father pulled away in the pickup, he pointed out a riser that I might hit with the front tire of the tractor if I was not attentive. As fate would have it, I failed to negotiate around the riser and broke it off.

I felt awful about the damage, and wished more than anything that I could go back even a couple of minutes and avoid the damage that would require another couple of hours to repair before we could turn on the pump. My regrets over the situation were immeasurable.

Regrets seldom solve anything, unless they are generated by experiences that can be learned from. Regrets can’t change the past, or change the circumstances we find ourselves in individually or collectively.

Regret, if measurable, would have to be quantified by the ton or even megaton in Washington when applied to the Iraq front for the war on terror. The President and members of the House and the Senate are obviously encumbered with massive quantities of regret, either for recommendations, decisions, or votes made. But regrets, reservations, and intelligence used to embroil us in the Iraq quandary resolve nothing in logically dealing with the situation as it now stands.

You play the cards you’re dealt in life, even if you are the dealer. It solves nothing to labor over the events leading up to where you are in life, or where the nation is as it relates to Iraq. It only is reasonable to play the cards we have now as logically and realistically as possible .

In light of that fact, there are three basic recourses in reconciling the Iraq conundrum. One is to stay there to continue to assist the Iraqi government to stabilize and establish its autonomy and let the Iraqi government and the U.S. military personnel on the scene make the key decisions in terms of troop level and eventual withdrawal.
The second has as many variables as a centipede has legs where politicians from Washington dictate a time table for withdrawal and scaling back of operations. Not based on the logic of national defense, but based on political expediency.

The third simply mandates an immediate withdrawal of all coalition forces, a la John Murtha.
The New York Times seldom is factual on its editorial page, but last week was an exception. They stated in a full-page opinion that withdrawing prematurely will create massive bloodshed and chaos and encourage terrorists. It would create an environment ripe for terrorists to train and expand their reach, even across “the pond” to the U.S. posing a much greater threat to the domestic front. But true to form for the Times, they came to the wrong conclusion that we should indeed withdraw prematurely. They conceded, however, that doing so would exacerbate the bloodbath in Iraq and lead to a fracturing of the country along sectarian lines.

If there was no progress being made with the terrorists in Iraq, or if mismanagement of the war effort was still in evidence, option two cited above might be viable.

But to the contrary, there is verifiable evidence that the recent “surge” is working, and that General Petraeus is managing the military aspects of the operation with competency and courage while under fire from politicos here at home.

Iraq is not experiencing a civil war as so many pundits and politicians have claimed. After four years of open warfare with Sunni insurgents, thanks to delicate diplomacy by military envoys and Iraqi politicians and the Sunni population’s own disgust with Al Qaeda’s Salafism and brutality, we’ve finally achieved something like a detente with some of the indigneous non-Salafist groups in Anbar and Baquba. Military leaders in Iraq confirm that 95% of the violence created by insurgents there is from terrorist groups like Al Qaida. Regardless of whether they were there before we invaded, they are there now. Logically, that is a much better place to be confronting them than scattered throughout the world, including here at home.

U.S. and Iraqi troops are racking up major successes against Al Qaida. Brigadier General Kevin Bergner said that 26 leaders of Al Qaida in Iraq had been killed or captured in surge operations during May and June. General Bergner declared, “Over the past two months, our collective efforts against the Al Qaida leadership have begun to disrupt their networks and safe havens.” But Bergner also said he expects Al Qaida to lash out with spectacular attacks to try to reassert themselves and reverse their recent losses.

The President released an early progress report this week on the established benchmarks to monitor progress. Half of the benchmarks are great, half of them are not so good. And those were purposefully set so high by Congress that there’s no way the Iraqi government could achieve them within the time allotted. In other words, the jury is still out but there is evidence of improvement. In terms of the attacks in Baghdad, there has been a decline since the surge began. There is a decline in bombings, a decline in Iraqi casualties and high-profile bombings.

I’m convinced that the polls which indicate that a majority of Americans want us out of Iraq are not what they appear to be on the surface. They’re more of an indication of how well the media are managing public perceptions of what is happening in Iraq. There is a huge disparity between what is reported, and what is actually happening there according to those who have served or are serving there presently. As evidence, a recent poll indicated that only 15% of Americans feel the economy is getting better, while statistically it’s never been better than right now. That’s how it’s been for the past six years, because the media do not accurately report the vibrancy and health of the economy.

We must consider in which of the aforementioned scenarios are American interests best served, and the American people most safe. To pragmatically consider the ramifications of premature withdrawn, it is crucial to our divorce the logical process from how we got into the Iraq situation to begin with. Based on evidence of progress with the current plan, weighed against the bloodbath that would occur with premature withdrawal, and the expanded threats to the homeland, logic would dictate continuation of General Petraeus’ strategy to stabilize Iraq.
The logical answer seems self-evident. This is very much a matter of national security, and not just about the Iraqis. I have yet to hear any compelling argument of how we are safer by withdrawing prematurely.

Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at

About the

More than anything, I want my readers to think. We're told what to think by the education establishment, which is then parroted by politicians from the left, and then reinforced by the mainstream media. Steeped in classical liberalism, my ideological roots are based in the Constitution and our founding documents. Armed with facts, data, and correct principles, today's conservatives can see through the liberal haze and bring clarity to any political discussion.

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