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With their heads in the sand

By Henry Lamb
web posted March 19, 2007

Rather than confront and resolve an unpleasant encounter, an ostrich is said to stick its head in the sand.  The inevitable consequence of this posture, is the worst possible part of the ostrich is exposed for all the world to see.

Iraq War protest in Washington, D.C. on March 17, 2007The no-war-at-any-price crowd that descended on Washington last week is much like the proverbial ostrich: rather than confront and resolve the unpleasant reality in Iraq, they stick their heads in the sand and expose to the world the worst possible part of their structure.

The get-out-now folks choose to see no further than the darkness of the hole their heads are in; they offer no thought, nor suggestion about the consequences of the action they advocate.  Their goal is simply to get the troops out of Iraq, and blame George Bush for whatever the consequences may be.

Should these ostrich types prevail, the consequences will be swift and bloody.  Shiites and Sunnis will struggle for control, with backing on one side from Iran, and on the other from al-Qaida.  The blood that has flowed so far is hardly a trickle compared to the river of red that could irrigate the Iraqi deserts.  These people have no respect for human life.  They consider anyone outside their own religious point of view to be an infidel - worthy only of slaughter.

Sooner or later, one side or the other will prevail - the side that is the most treacherous.  The last time this conflict arose, Saddam's forces prevailed, and he maintained peace, not through law, but with barbarian treachery.  The elections and the adoption of a Constitution suggest that the vast majority of the people are tired of the bloodshed and violence, and want instead, a representative government based on law.   It is the leadership who are unwilling to share power and work for the improvement of the nation and its people.  Each faction's leadership wants uncontested power to control the nation's resources, and its people.

This is the short-term consequence.  Should the U.S. withdraw, Iraq would explode, but the smoke would clear in a relatively short time, perhaps as little as a year.  Whatever faction survived  would not be a friend of the United States.  The nation would likely become a launching pad for many years of long-term consequences.

One long-term consequence is the fact that the U.S., the mightiest military power the world has ever seen, will have been defeated.  Not just defeated, but defeated by a rag-tag bunch of gangsters, whose weaponry is essentially home-made.   The nations whose defense is tied to the United States through treaties will lose confidence in the U.S., and will necessarily look to other nations for security agreements, or to expanding their own security forces.  In either event, this is a very serious long-term consequence.   The ostrich crowd that marched on the Pentagon couldn't care less.                              

Another long-term consequence is the inevitable growth of Islamic fanaticism.  Fueled by the images of  victory over the U.S. military, the Islamic youth will fill the training camps and swell the army of zealots whose goal  is to destroy America.  The ostrich crowd marching in Washington couldn't care less.

A certain long-term consequence is the attacks that will come again in the United States.  The United States military was not in Afghanistan or Iraq when 19 Islamic fanatics attacked the United States and killed nearly 3,000 innocent people.  U.S. withdrawal from Iraq will not insure against future attacks here.  Just the opposite is true; withdrawal now will almost guarantee future attacks on American soil.  But the ostrich crowd couldn't care less.

Still another long-term consequence is the passing of an era that will not be easily recovered - an era of national pride. When the United States went to war against Japan and Germany - at the same time - the U.S. was an obvious underdog.   It was sheer national pride that sent thousands of America's finest to the battlefields, and the rest of America to work.  Blackouts and ration books were the norm, but there were no mobs of ostriches descending on Washington demanding to bring the troops home.  This began with Vietnam.

Vietnam vets were the objects of scorn; they were ridiculed, mocked, and spit upon when they returned home.  In retrospect, we can see now that it was a spineless Congress that should be scorned for caving before the baseless claims of the likes of John Kerry and celebrity of Hanoi Jane.  These events, nearly 40 years ago, gave birth to the ostriches that even now call again for American retreat, with no concern whatever for the consequences. ESR

Henry Lamb is the executive vice president of the Environmental Conservation Organization (ECO), and chairman of Sovereignty International.


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