President George W. Bush’s order to send 21,500 troops to Iraq to provide security for Iraqi civilians may not be the best solution, and in the long term might backfire, said CSUN political science professors.
Mehran Kamrava, a professor and specialist in Middle Eastern studies, said that the new surge would only increase the number of the American Army soldiers and officers. Therefore it would intensify the sense of resentment that Iraqis have toward Americans.
“Nobody likes to have soldiers from another country come and tell them what to do,” Kamrava said. “Everybody wants to be protective of their sense of national pride.”
The Iraqis are in the middle of a civil war that has turned the whole country into violence and turmoil since the U.S. invasion, Kamrava said.
The U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003 looking for weapons of mass destruction, to stop terrorism and to capture Saddam Hussein. Since then, social tensions between two major groups, Shiites and Sunnis, have come to the surface – resulting in a civil war.
Now, after four years of invasion, Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, Bush’s latest nominee to head the United States Armed Forces in Iraq, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Jan. 23 that the situation in Iraq was “extreme” but still not impossible to control, according to sources covering Washington.
Kamrava agreed with Petraeus that not all the hope is lost in Iraq, but he said that the surge option is not the best solution.
“The best option is to have a steady reduction of troops’ levels in Iraq, but then to make sure that there is not a military and political vacuum left behind,” Kamrava said.
The way the U.S. government should fill that “political vacuum” is by bringing troops from other American allies, such as India or Malaysia, or by having the intervention of the United Nations, Kamrava said.
Matthew Cahn, department chair and professor of political science at CSUN, said a surge is not the solution to the problems we are encountering in Iraq.
“The different communities in Iraq think that the American presence seems less than helpful and less than positive,” Cahn said. “As a consequence, I don’t see how increasing the American presence brings a contribution.”
According to Cahn, the president should have taken a more evidence-based approach in which he could have recognized the problems and responded to them accordingly. Instead, Bush took a more ideological approach on what could have been in Iraq.
Cahn said the U.S. has created the problems that Iraqis currently face, and that we removed their governmental structure without questioning how we would replace it.
“I’m not sure that life in Iraq is better now that (Hussein) is gone, than it was when he was there,” he said. “We shattered (Iraq) and I don’t believe there is much we can do to put it back together right now.”
However, Kamrava said that the U.S. should have helped with the reconstruction of Iraq by building schools and universities, and training medical personnel. But what the Iraqis need most, he said, is an infrastructure.
Kamrava said the situation in Iraq does not have an easy answer and now that Democrats are in control of the U.S. Congress, they will discover that the solutions are not as easy as they seem to be. He said that rebuilding Iraq would take between three and six years.
Jabbar Magruder, junior medical physics major, said that over the course of almost a year when he was serving in Iraq, he gradually saw the increases in violence and destruction.
“You see cows chewing garbage,” Magruder said. “There is a lack of life quality. Iraqis don’t have the basics of an infrastructure because we’re (focused) on security and contractors.”
Magruder said the insurgency’s reaction is like that of any other people who would defend their country against the occupiers who want to tell them how to run their politics.
“If China didn’t like the way that we have our elections and decided to come and tell us how it’s done, I think I would be the first one on the streets trying to blow out Chinese tanks because you don’t want them in your home,” he said.
Facing possible redeployment in 2008, Magruder said the president should concentrate on training the Iraqi army and rebuilding the country step by step instead of sending more troops.
“I’m doing whatever I can to bring everybody home,” he said. “But if I’m given the orders I would go (to Iraq). I’m not going to smile but I’m not going to complain either.”
Jackie Valles, junior sociology major, said that she is against the idea of sending a new surge to Iraq. Valles said that Bush’s strategy has failed since the beginning because he has not thought of the consequences of invading Iraq.
“We have spent a lot of money on the war and a lot of troops and Iraqi civilians have been killed,” Valles said. “(Bush’s) administration made up a bunch of lies about the weapons of mass destruction. He shouldn’t have sent the troops on the first place.”