America should withdraw from Iraq in 2006 for several reasons. These reasons include 2,377 dead and 17,648 wounded American soldiers, as well as huge numbers of dead Iraqis. Other important reasons for withdrawal include the depletion of troops and finances that could be more effectively utilized to fight terrorism. Additionally, evidence indicates we’re in Iraq for oil security, and withdrawal could increase oil security. Recent polls of U.S. troops, American citizens, and Iraqi citizens further support a consensus opinion that troops should be withdrawn this year.
A relatively unpublicized Zogby poll taken this February discovered 72 percent of our troops think we should withdraw this year, and 29 percent think we should withdraw immediately. The poll also found 42 percent of troops think the mission is unclear and the majority thinks insurgents are mostly Iraqis.
American and Iraqi citizens feel similar to the troops about the need to withdraw this year. Recent Angus Reed polls discovered 58 percent of Americans support a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, and 48 percent support immediate withdrawal. A World Public Opinion poll taken this January of Iraqis found 70 percent desire a timetable for withdrawal, 76 percent believe America won’t leave even if their government asks, and 80 percent think Americans will maintain permanent military bases. In addition, an alarming 47 percent of Iraqis support attacks on U.S. forces. The majority of Iraqis also think overall security and government cooperation will increase if America withdraws.
My first reason for withdrawal is occupation actually creates more organized and dangerous terrorists. Our CIA discovered that Iraq has become a training laboratory for terrorists, where they practice urban combat, such as assassinations, kidnappings, and car bombings. CIA director Porter Goss also said terrorists in Iraq are creating a “pool of contacts to build transnational terrorist cells and networks in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and other countries.”
Another reason for withdrawal is that America is arguably in Iraq for oil security, and oil security can be more easily achieved after withdrawal. Evidence for this originates from an early 2001 Department of Defense report called “Proliferation: Threat and Response.” It describes U.S. interests in the Middle East as “building and maintaining security arrangements that assure stability of the Gulf region and unimpeded access to its oil.” Additionally, during the Iraq invasion, one of the only buildings we protected was the Iraq Oil Ministry, which we secured with snipers and 50 tanks.
After withdrawal, we could achieve oil security more easily by ending, as Bush calls it, America’s addiction to Middle East oil. We could spend the billions in war money on alternative energy and fuel efficiency research and development. We could also further create oil security by immediately killing Bush’s $100,000 SUV tax rebates for businesses and enacting fuel efficiency regulations on automobiles. The government should enact incentives to encourage fuel-efficient automobiles instead of trendy gas-guzzling SUVs and large trucks, which unnecessarily inflate demand and consumption and increase price and dependence on Middle East oil.
As previously mentioned, saving billions of dollars in war money is probably the greatest reason for withdrawal. Prior to the “Mission Accomplished” statement, the Bush Administration said Iraq would cost under $50 billion. We’re now spending $10 billion a month. Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel-winning economist, estimates final costs from $1 to $2 trillion, which includes war, long-term health care for wounded troops, impact of rising oil prices, and added interest on national debt. We could use this money instead to advance oil security, and also for better homeland defense of our borders, seaports, and airports.
Some argue we must stay because it’s a matter of time or training for the Iraqi government and security forces to develop, but the real problem is that the Iraqi troops are perceived as connected with loathed occupiers. They’re constantly slaughtered as American collaborators and can’t develop credibility until we withdraw. The majority of Iraqis voted recently for the United Iraqi Alliance, a party defined by supporting a timetable for withdrawal, which would create a greater sense of urgency for government cooperation.
Withdrawal would allow us to more effectively fight terrorism and create oil security by diverting billions of dollars to alternative energy and optimum homeland defense. Freeing up our troops and weaponry would also better prepare us for potential conflict with nations that actually attack us, and perhaps even the capture of bin Laden.
Abel Tomlinson is a graduate student in plant pathology.