End the Iraq war with proper funding and support

Editorials featured in the Forum section are solely the opinions of their individual authors.

An article in the September 22 New York Times pointed out a concrete example of the tremendous personnel strains in the armed forces: National guardsmen who traditionally spend five years at home between foreign deployments are now getting an average of only three years before redeployment.

Personnel problems within the armed forces indicate that the military is overextended. This presents President Bush with a predicament. It has become more difficult for the military to achieve victory in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and if the military remains undermanned and underequipped, the end of the war will grow harder still to reach.

The lack of enlistment is also a difficult political problem for Bush’s opponents. According to a poll released on September 24 by the Opinion Research Corporation, 59 percent of Americans now oppose the war. Without the support of the American people, how can enlistment increase? On the other hand, how can Bush’s opponents support the military and the war effort while still opposing the President?

If all of the opposing sides stick to their ideologies, then ending the war becomes a confusing paradox. If the President cannot make ending the war a top priority, then the military will never achieve victory. Alternatively, the American public’s powerful opposition to the war has left the military too weak to provide basic security in Iraq because there are too few troops to restore stability there.

Ideological opposition prevents all of us from achieving what we want. President Bush needs to come to terms with and effectively articulate his desire to end the war if he wants a victory. The American people must commit to the war effort if they want to bring about a resolution to the conflict.

An American victory is essential to both sides. Without it, we will face new obstacles in providing humanitarian aid in the future, for we cannot aid the people of countries where violence is the rule without giving more power to their oppressive governments — unless we want to engage in more full-scale invasions. With the military credibility of a decisive victory, well-placed and well-enforced threats can send strong messages to other violent leaders.

But we also wish to prevent American hegemony, or global cultural and moral dominance. However, if our goal is to prevent situations like the one we’ve entered in Iraq, we must recognize our failures and take responsibility to repair the damages we’ve caused by allowing the war to ensue. Now that we find ourselves at war, the only way for the Iraqi people and culture to flourish is to return peace and stability to the country.

If we want to see any pragmatic results from upholding our ideals, we must achieve a victory in Iraq. It’s time to swallow our differences and admit that we all share the common goal of ending the war and stabilizing the region.

A major obstacle in the war in Iraq is the administration’s reluctance to set plausible military goals. There are no preconditions for victory. As far as we know, the war will be over when victory is achieved, but we have no idea when that will happen and what it will entail. There have been a few milestones: Unseating Saddam Hussein and decimating his army are obvious markers of victory. But now we seem to be losing resolve. We need an overwhelming occupying force. While Hussein and the old Iraqi army have been removed, young men have been flooding across the borders for their chance to fight American hegemony. The military must make it its top priority to begin maintaining stability by securing the borders and deploying a tremendous presence.

Occupation and then withdrawal are the final steps here. But once the administration recognizes that the goal is to end the war, the American people must be willing to commit to the effort. We must set our ideologies aside for a moment and take responsibility for our failures or our bad decisions.

If the decision-makers in Congress and the White House can recognize military goals as preconditions for victory, and the American people can get behind the armed forces, then we can end the war and bring peace and stability back to Iraq.