Will's Double Surrender Policy

Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's hard to imagine a more disastrous blow to vital American security interests than the double surrender George Will has proposed this week. To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously would be to abandon American interests and allies in the Persian Gulf and the greater Middle East. The consequences of such a retreat would be to shift the balance of influence in the region decidedly away from pro-U.S. forces and in the direction of the most radical forces in Tehran, as well as toward al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Taliban, to name just the most prominent beneficiaries. Longtime allies of the United States would either have to accommodate these radical forces and fall under their sway, or take matters into their own hands. What Will is proposing would constitute the largest strategic setback in American history.

At a broader level, these withdrawals would signal to the world a new era of American isolationism. If we are willing to hand over Afghanistan and Iraq to radical terrorist forces, where would we not retreat?

Yes, the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan are difficult. But they are far from unmanageable. Iraq has benefited immensely from the American surge and the political processes it has made possible. Afghanistan is in bad shape, but a concerted effort by our military and civilian forces, as well as by our allies, can produce stability and the possibility of progress with time, as top military leaders, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, have attested.

Will wants us to commit preemptive suicide for fear of being killed. But we need to show some of the patience and fortitude previous generations of Americans have shown, and in far more dire circumstances. We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan today on a lark. The price of our failure would be enormous, both in the region and, potentially, at home.

-- Robert Kagan

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