Adopting a 'No Return to Iraq' Policy

Article excerpt


Many retail stores around the country have what are called "no return" policies. These are guidelines that signal to potential shoppers they must not leave the store with an item unless they are willing to keep it, permanently.

This may be a common commercial policy but it provides an insight into President Bush's strategy vis-a-vis Iraq.

The president wants to ensure American soldiers do not find themselves back in Iraq in five to 10 years due to internal circumstances that can be remedied today. He understands a premature and ill-prepared withdrawal will make a return trip all the more likely. Therefore, he is pursuing what can best be described as a "no return to Iraq" policy: Fight and defeat the terrorists and transfer "authority to a free and sovereign Iraqi government." Then come home.

The administration's sensible approach, however, is being lambasted by the president's critics on the left who continue to call for a clear "exit strategy." The New York Times tried to illustrate Americans were becoming "increasingly anxious about the war effort and worried that the United States may be trapped in an adventure from which there is no evident exit."

The contention that the United States is "trapped" is a dangerous polemic that will have serious consequences for U.S. national security if it prompts the American people to demand from the administration a set of expeditious policies that place the future of Iraq in the hands of a less competent authority such as the United Nations.

For example, the Associated Press reported this month that the U.N. "ordered a drastic reduction of its remaining 400 international staff to a ceiling of 50 because of continuing security concerns" in the wake of the terrorist attack on its headquarters. An 88 percent reduction in personnel after only one attack sends the right message to every terrorist group that thrives on irresolute behavior but it bodes ill for the prospects of a successful U.N. mission in Iraq.

Moreover, a new U.N. resolution is unlikely to satisfy those who are currently attacking American soldiers and our allies. Radical Islamists and Saddam loyalists make no distinction between the United Nations and the United States. …