Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This is Responsibly Ending a War

Our president "responsibly ended" the war in Iraq by abandoning the Iraqis to finish off al Qaeda on their own. The president is unwilling to commit many troops to Afghanistan following our fast withdrawal over the next two years, and has expressed willingness to go to zero there. This too is "responsibly ending" a war. According to our president, anyway. Funny enough, we have an example of responsibly ending a war that nobody much talks about.

As we pivot to Asia (or more accurately, pivot away from the Middle East with the pretense that we aren't walking away from the jihadi problem we still face--and which France is confronting in Mali), let us remember that there is one Middle East war that we responsibly ended and we continue to help keep war that would harm our interests from breaking out again. And we've been doing it for over three decades: the Multinational Force of Observers in the Sinai peninsula.

Funny enough, it wasn't even a war we fought in.

We have nearly 700 troops there as part of over 1,600 troops--not under the United Nations--who are still there to keep the peace between Egypt and Israel. These troops provide assurance to both sides that the other won't resort to force and so gives each side an excuse to play nice enough--under regional standards, of course.

That's all I really wanted for Iraq. American troops that gave various Iraqi parties the confidence that American military power would keep any faction from going outside the political process to resolve disputes. Instead, we exploited the calm from our military's battlefield victories and came home, even as the anger remained ready to re-explode.

The president is fond of saying he is responsibly ending wars in the Middle East. But the war continues in Iraq without us, albeit at lower levels since we won on the battlefield. And the war in Afghanistan will continue without our major role.

So the wars we launched to win aren't really ended, are they? And we aren't there to keep the peace we won at high cost.

How responsible is that?