Now is not the time to back out of Iraq

Last week, the House of Representatives voted on a motion to promptly pull out our troops from Operation Iraqi Freedom. The votes transpired as follows: three Democrats voted for the motion, and 403 Democrats and Republicans voted against it. Obviously, an overwhelming majority of the House understands that U.S. forces cannot leave until the job is finished. However, civilians can’t quite grasp the importance of fulfilling what we set out to do: nip a terrorist regime in the bud.

History offers us some excellent examples of the detrimental effect on the nations involved and how the world perceives our country when the United States does a “cut and run” during conflict.

In the Vietnam War, Congress voted to withdraw our troops from the offensive before the job was completed. Vietnamization, the training of the South Vietnamese troops to successfully take over the battle, had yet to be fully executed.

When American forces left the country, the South Vietnamese were in no shape to fully fend for themselves, and the North Vietnamese invaded and slaughtered thousands of civilians, such as U.S. allies in the highlands. This became a geopolitical defeat for the South Vietnamese as well as America.

We lost our resolve to battle evil in the world, and our reputation among other superpowers became tarnished. The Chinese called the U.S. forces “Paper Tigers,” saying that Americans can speak against civil atrocities and even instigate a resolve, but when the battle becomes too bloody, we retreat licking our wounds. And we did nothing to combat that image.

I’m not necessarily condoning the Vietnam War; however, I firmly believe that once U.S. forces are engaged in a struggle, we must see it to a healthy conclusion.

When the Soviets attacked Afghanistan during the Carter administration, America became involved in another instance of trying to help a nation withstand invading forces.

On Christmas Day 1979, as the Soviets had intentions to impose their communistic regime upon Afghanistan, a select group of Afghani freedom fighters arose to defend the nation. In later years of the conflict, the United States fed them stinger missiles and other necessities of war to combat the Soviet helicopters.

The Soviets did not have international support for their motive for attacking the Afghanis, and they retreated, badly bruised from battle. With communism lingering in Afghanistan, these vulnerable freedom fighters took initiative to rebuild their country. However, in their weak state, corruption seeped in. We now know some of these “freedom fighters” as members of the Taliban. At that point, our country was so engaged in ending the Cold War that the terrorist organization didn’t even bleep on our radar.

Now we face another hurdle. The United States has suffered more than 2,000 American casualties in Iraq, and those to the left are pushing for retreat. Has history taught us nothing? If we pull out of fighting now, we will leave the Iraqis essentially defenseless against an empowered insurgency.

If the training and supplies that we’re offering to the Iraqis ceases, they will eventually fall victim to the radical terrorists, both countrywide and those from surrounding nations. An extremist regime will set in, carrying anti-West sentiments with it. We will once again be “Paper Dragons,” with enough gusto to battle the harsh Baath party but not enough courage to stick it out when the body count increases. In World War II, Russia alone lost more than 20 million soldiers in the fight. Twenty million!

The individuals who voted for this war now want to retreat once they see a body count.

Leaving now would only make those deaths in vain – they would literally have died for nothing. I’m not discrediting the individuals who selflessly gave their lives for this country. My readers know that I have a very personal stake in this war. I know better than most that my fiance and his friends fighting in Iraq are not just numbers.

But war is daunting. War is bloody. Unfortunately, people die in war. It is a fact of life. Would I love for my significant other and your brothers, sisters and friends to come home today? Of course! But as an American, I cannot morally allow us to cut and run when our job is not finalized.

We are making tremendous progress in Iraq. The Iraqi army is becoming more self-sufficient and capable every day. In December, Iraq will host another free election, and it’s quite possible that the outcome of that election may help to send many of our troops home in the near future.

However, it would be irresponsible to duck out now before we can ensure that democracy is alive and functioning in Iraq. If we withdrew now, it would be akin to a contractor quitting the job before the foundation is built. And who wants to live in a house with no support?

Taylor Williams is a junior majoring in English education.