Exit, stage left, won't work

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By John Barnhart

    One of the things I like about Rick Howell’s The Liberal Agenda is that it’s an excellent illustration of liberals’ bizarre way of thinking. Sometimes they leave me shaking my head for some time. Take, for example, his column of Oct. 6, in which he made another appeal for America to pull an “exit, stage left” from Iraq and Afghanistan.

    One comment that particularly astounded me was his statement that it is outrageous that American troops are fighting in Iraq to help Iraqi troops defend themselves. Why is this outrageous? This is exactly what we have an obligation to do.
    A few weeks ago, I stepped out on my back deck for a few minutes with a cup of coffee. When I turned around to go back in, I discovered that I had stupidly locked myself out. I didn’t have anything in my pockets, and the phone is in the house. All I had was the coffee cup and, after a 20 second search, a rock. I had to break a window to get back in.
    Once I had broken that window, I couldn’t just “un-break” it. I had to repair the damage I had done as well as clean up the mess I had made.
    This is exactly what we have in Iraq. When we invaded Iraq in 2003, we broke it and ended up making a huge mess. We can’t simply “un-break” it. We can’t “un-invade” Iraq. We are morally obligated to clean up the mess we made.
    This is not easy. Simmering ethnic and sectarian hatreds bubbled to the surface when we blew the lid off the place and Muslim extremists are quite willing to hide behind non-combatants, using them as shields. Saddam Hussein kept the lid on that through a combination of ruthlessness and brutality. I don’t think anyone wants to advocate resorting to his methods, which means we are still in for a long haul, whether liberals like it or not.
    We can’t pull out of Afghanistan for a different reason. President Barack Obama was correct in calling that war the necessary war. We invaded Afghanistan because the Taliban government had chosen to harbor Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda. If we just leave, then the Taliban will come back and so will Al Qaeda.
    As I’ve mentioned before, I think Russia can be a valuable ally in this fight. It has as much of an interest in keeping Afghanistan from once again becoming a happy home for Muslim holy warriors as we do. Along with providing easy to maintain weapons and equipment to the Afghan Army, Russian influence with the “Stans” that border Afghanistan could make it unnecessary for us to run any supplies at all through Pakistan. This would give us a free hand to deal with Pakistan.
    A major part of the problem in Afghanistan is that certain Muslim extremist groups can attack from relative safe havens in parts of Pakistan. Pakistan seems unwilling or unable to do anything about this. It covertly cooperates with our Predator UAV strikes, but is unwilling to let  us do anything beyond that. We must find a way to convince Pakistan to take action against these extremists, or allow us to cross their border with substantial military force to do the job ourselves. Doing this will be easier if we aren’t dependent on bringing supplies into Afghanistan through Pakistan.
    Maybe liberals think that, if we just pull out, these Islamic crazies will leave us alone. The recent plot, disrupted by Predator strikes, to carry out Mumbai-style commando attacks in Europe ought to be clear evidence that this simply isn’t so.