Wednesday, September 12, 2007

The Cost of Staying

LA Times, which seems to have gotten much more shrill lately:

This is the essence of the two-day report to Congress by Gen. David H. Petraeus and Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. The general and the ambassador freely admitted that the situation in Iraq is frustrating, that U.S. military might cannot force Iraqis into the political reconciliation that is the only basis for real stability, and that it's impossible to predict when Iraqis will be able to run their country themselves. Nevertheless, they argued, the consequences of U.S. troops departing could be so horrific -- Iraq turning into an Al Qaeda haven plagued by ethnic cleansing and preyed upon by Iran -- that the only prudent course is to keep at least 130,000 soldiers in Iraq at least until July.

President Bush is expected to accept this recommendation in a speech Thursday. Despite Democratic protests, it's unlikely that this toothless Congress will stop him from continuing the de facto occupation of Iraq for the remainder of his term. We fear this is a grave mistake that will compound the colossal error of invading Iraq in the first place -- although we fervently hope that Petraeus, Crocker and the courageous people they lead will somehow manage to prove us wrong.

The president will ask the nation to pay for the next 11 months in Iraq with billions of dollars and hundreds of lives. We think this sacrifice will be in vain, because only Iraqis can heal their national wounds. And so we ask instead: What else could the United States do with a guesstimated $100 billion to reduce the strength and the appeal of Islamist terrorist groups worldwide?