Sound Off: Time to move the troops out

Whether one believes our entry into Iraq was justified or not or was strategically beneficial to the U.S. or not (considering oil, Israel or the introduction of democracy to the region), how can one deny the total incompetence with which this entire war has been and is being conducted?

Preparation was minimal with reliance on poor and incomplete intelligence, possession of no exit plan and no adherence to the Powell doctrine of overwhelming force.

Execution was quick and incomplete (no guarding of ammunition depots allowing the theft of huge numbers of explosives and shells which have been made into IEDs).

The occupation has been disastrous with its tolerance of hooliganism (“democracy is messy”), the appointment of inexperienced Republican functionaries to manage the monetary (Iraqi stock market) and civil infrastructure (there was more potable water, oil and electricity production under Saddam), poor management of the contracts regarding the security and rebuilding of the country, and inadequate provision of equipment for our troops including up-armored vehicles and flack vests.

Our current situation is untenable. We are supporting a Shiite regime with strong ties to Iran. This regime owes its election to Muqtada al-Sadr who is the head of the Sadr Brigade, whom we are fighting because it is targeting U.S. troops and Sunnis. We are fighting the Sunni Saddamists, who don’t want to lose power and have allied themselves with Al Qaida. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, who are Sunni, are U.S. “allies” in the fight against terrorism. We are also preparing to go to war with Iran. (It is hard to buy the argument that our departure will turn Iraq into a “haven of terrorists” when all of Iraq’s neighbors are enemies of Al Qaida, and much stronger.)

Although I have no relatives or friends in Iraq, this war is very personal to me. I also was a part of a very unpopular war that was mired in incompetence. I was an infantry ranger with the First Air Cavalry in Vietnam from March of 1969 to March of 1970. It is hard for me to imagine what my reaction or the reaction of my family would have been if my one-year tour was involuntarily extended or if I had had to return for a second or third tour. This is commonplace today for our brave men and women in the regular and reserve military and our National Guard. I never met a member of the National Guard in Vietnam.

None of us wants to think our loved ones died or were wounded in vain. Each of our soldiers who volunteered for service is a hero and deserving of our utmost respect and honor. They answered the call like so many of us over the years. Unlike us, they are fighting or dying in a war conceived by people of my generation who have never experienced the heat of battle: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perl, Abrams, Rice, Hadley, Tenet etc. Where were they during the Vietnam war?

Whether you agree or disagree with our entry into the war, do you want to trust our sons and daughters to an administration that refuses to acknowledge its errors in prosecuting the war, asks for patience after four years (a period longer than our other modern wars), and continues a failed policy with no end in sight? Within the last week, a Sunni vice-president was seriously wounded within a stone’s throw of the Green Zone and the head of the United Nations had to duck under his podium due to a rocket within the Green Zone.

Support our troops: redeploy out of Baghdad and avoid refereeing a civil war. Let the Iraqis come to grips with a political settlement, which General David Petraeus has stated is so necessary. Pay more attention to Afghanistan, which is quickly unraveling. Bring our troops home sooner rather than later.

Render Denson

lives in Coupeville.