Brazen kidnapping indicates civil war, high stakes for victory

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

As the Democrats move into the halls of Congress, they are urging American soldiers to move out of Iraq.

Senator Carl Levin from Michigan is the Democrats’ pick to be the new Armed Services Committee chairman. He has created a timetable that will begin removing American troops from Iraq within the next six months. Last week, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette printed this quotation from the Senator: “The point of this [plan to withdraw] is to signal to the Iraqis that the open-ended commitment is over and that they are going to have to deal with their own problems.”

Since the article was printed last Monday, some new events have unfurled which show that the Iraqis’ “own problems” may soon be a full-blown civil war in the country.

Last Tuesday morning, 80 gunmen dressed in police uniforms, some driving police cars, stormed a building that housed the Iraqi Higher Education Ministry. Iraqi officials estimate the number of men kidnapped in the raid to be anywhere from 55 to 150. Some abductees who have returned have reported torture and murder of their fellows.

An article explaining the events in the Washington Post on November 15 revealed that the kidnappings, the largest mass kidnappings since the American invasion began, were not related to sectarian violence. The kidnappers took Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Kurds, and Christians.

The recent abductions are a show of power between Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki’s government and the militias in Iraq. The kidnappers, who are believed to be a part of the Mahdi army, are using fear tactics and intimidation to gain power over the Iraqi people.

When the Democrats begin to follow through with their plan for withdrawal, the problems that Iraqis will have to deal with will be a civil war among the many groups who are still vying for power despite the results of elections in that country.

Following Levin’s plan would be completely irresponsible and would leave the country of Iraq and its people devastated.

Our military and our politicians cannot expect the Iraqi police forces to return stability to the nation. The officers, whether they committed the kidnappings or not, are corrupt. And among their ranks are the very enemies they are trying to stop.

Furthermore, the American soldiers will be harmed in the political games that our leaders play. So many lives have been lost, and leaving the country to fall to civil war will make their sacrifices all in vain.

Worst of all, the Iraqi people really have no problems of their own. Our soldiers, bombs, and warplanes have destroyed their country. Our actions have destabilized the region. Our gung-ho invasion has scattered enemies to every dark corner of each Iraqi city, where they wait for the innocent victims who our soldiers are meant to protect.

As the situation in Iraq falls apart, the stakes for victory become even higher. Though President Bush has become open to new strategies since the midterm elections, we must not become resolved to abandon the Iraqi people and force them to clean up the mess that we have created.

If we want our soldiers to come home, we should place a little more trust in General John Abizaid, chief of U.S. Central Command. President Bush is right in making troop movements contingent on the conditions in Iraq. And right now the general says the conditions call for more troops. A premature withdrawal would prove disastrous for the country.