Skip to content

We ask you, humbly: don't scroll away.

Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you.

Help Now >

Petraeus offers a dose of reality

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes

i>National Catholic Reporter has opposed military interventions into Iraq from the very first Gulf War in 1991, fearing from the start what has come to pass. Iraq is a country destroyed. That awareness does little, however, to alter the current mess. It is with great reluctance that we would argue against a precipitous withdrawal. With the Petraeus-Crocker testimony, it appears we now have before us a degree of reality that provides some space for us to begin talking about how to retreat from Iraq with the least possible further bloodshed and the best possible outcome for Iraq.

A revealing cautionary double-edged assessment was offered by Ahmad Umar el Esawi, a Sunni employed by the city Baquba in Iraq and quoted Sept. 12 in The New York Times. At first, he insisted that total and immediate withdrawal of all troops "is a must because they have caused the destruction of Iraq, they committed massacres against the innocents, they have double-crossed the Iraqis with dreams." Then he reluctantly added sotto voce: "The American forces, which are an ugly occupation force, have become something important to us, the Sunnis. ... If the Americans leave, it will mean a total elimination of the Sunnis in Iraq." His conclusion betrayed the ambivalence many Iraqis feel: "I know I said I want them to leave, but if we think about it, then I have to say I want them to stay for a while until we end all the suspicions we have of each other and have a strong national government."

It is against this background, with the added acknowledgment that this Sunni's echo of President Bush's desire for a strong national government is nothing but a pipe dream, that the Bush administration, the U.S. Congress and the American people must begin constructing a just end to a war that had an unjust beginning. We can deduce from Petraeus and Crocker, the most credible voices put forth by the Bush administration to date, that there are serious obstacles in the way of building a working democracy in Iraq; that waiting for it to happen at the cost of more American troops, already stretched to the breaking point, of innocent Iraqi lives, and a current price tag widely estimated at $8 billion a month, is unacceptable because it is unrealistic.

Like it or not, in the face of weak internal leadership, Iraq is moving toward what it was before it became an independent kingdom in 1932: discrete tribal and religious entities, with a new brand of violent extremists added to the mix. Finding a way to a measure of stability - even if some would call that a euphemism for defeat - is now the only way out. Petraeus and Crocker, by tempering their gloss in some areas with restraint in their assessments of the possibilities for military and political success, have set the stage for that conversation to go forward.

If a politically motivated Democratic call for immediate withdrawal were heeded, it would bring an end to our military presence in Iraq as misguided as its beginning. As for that small minority of Americans still entertaining delusions that the United States will miraculously emerge heroic from this nightmare, we can only hope that they will find in less grandiose visions a firmer ground for moving forward. Anatol Lieven and John Hulsman write in the book Ethical Realism: A Vision for America's Role in the World that stability in the Middle East will be the product of both diminishing U.S. dominance in the region, a factor that fuels animosity and terrorism, as well as the ability to form a regional agreement by which Iraq's neighbors will honor its borders and its central government - one that makes room for ethnic power-sharing. Europe and United Nations will have to play a role in supporting and enforcing a regional agreement. Isolated players like Syria, Turkey, Iran and Saudi Arabia will have to participate, based on a plan that will prevent any one of those countries from operating solely in its own interest. An agreement over sharing oil revenues will be critical to any success.

While even this toned-down version of what is possible may be overly optimistic, it should be clear by now to all that staying the course is the worst of all options, since it has proven a failure at every point.


The Christophers ,
- ,



More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,716

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.

Saint of the Day logo
Prayer of the Day logo

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2024 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.