[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com]
Lightning paced thriller writer
of International Intrigue
National Bestselling Author

Iraq Is Not Vietnam
by Allan Topol, [IMAGE]2004


Photo Courtesy: Julie Zitin
[Allan Topol / AllanTopol.Com] There is an expression: “Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat its mistakes.” And another one: “Those who mistakenly draw historical parallels are doomed to failure.”

These two keep popping into my mind as numerous commentators have lectured the American public that we are now in another Vietnam quagmire. Let’s cut and run, they argue. Unfortunately, the comparison they have drawn to Vietnam is incorrect. Unquestionably, our military situation has worsened in Iraq in the last week. However, American interests are now at stake in Iraq in ways in which they never were in Vietnam.

There are three major considerations which compel us to continue with the task of creating a viable democratic nation in Iraq.

The first is the Iraqi people themselves. Even the staunchest opponents of the war must concede that huge numbers of Iraqis suffered horribly under Saddam. Having removed the source of oppression, we cannot now surrender the Iraqi people to what will be for many a virtual killing field in the chaos of a civil war that will pit Shiite against Sunni. Nor can we abandon secular Iraqis to the tyranny of religious extremists if it’s possible to help forge a democratic regime. To do so would not only break faith with the Iraqi people, but destroy our credibility and increase instability throughout the Arab world.

Second, from the standpoint of purely American interests, we don’t dare cut and run, leaving behind an Iraq which will be a haven and financial wellspring for international terrorists. This course of action would eradicate the progress we have made in the war on terror. The terrorists will have a much greater chance of launching attacks if they have a nation like Iraq in which they can take refuge, conduct training and use its banks to transfer money to operatives around the world.

If we cede Iraq to the Muslim extremists, we will become, in essence, the accomplices to their heinous attacks in the United States. They know very well the value of a political refuge and a virtually unlimited banker. That’s why they’re fighting with such intensity. Electronic fund transfers via national banks are a terrorist’s dream. It’s logistically difficult moving money and arms in suitcases at night.

Finally, there’s the matter of oil. It’s time we took the dirty word out of the closet. While Iraq is not simply about oil, let’s face the fact that oil is a major part of the equation.

Our energy situation has changed a great deal since the 1973 Arab oil embargo. It has gotten worse! As a result, we need to maintain the flow of Iraqi oil on the world market.

On the demand side, in the United States, we have continued to burn oil as if it were an unlimited natural resource. The building of nuclear power plants has ground to a halt here. The damage that a small band of anti-nuclear activists have done to our society and environment by compelling the wholesale burning of fossil fuels for electric energy is incalculable. At the same time, small fuel efficient cars, once viewed as the wave of the future, have given way to huge gas guzzling SUVs and minivans.

On the supply side, many oil fields in the U.S. and abroad are far less productive then they were thirty years ago. China is a huge new consumer, which has vaulted ahead of Japan in the competition with the United States for this precious natural resource.

There are very few countries with sufficient oil reserves to supply meaningful quantities of oil in response to the insatiable demand of the United States, China, Japan and Western Europe. Iraq is one of them. We cannot afford to lose its oil for the indefinite future.

In my novel Spy Dance, I focused on the damage to our way of life if we lost Saudi Arabian oil. The same considerations are relevant for Iraqi oil.

Those Americans who care deeply about our young men and women dying in Iraq should do something other than throw their hands up in despair and chastise the American government. They should trade in their gas guzzlers for fuel efficient cars.

The issue now is not whether we have vital American interests at stake in Iraq. That is crystal clear. The only question is whether we can succeed in forging a stable, reasonably friendly, Iraq—much less a democratic nation. The jury is still out on that question.

Undeniably, we have made serious mistakes since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s government. We wanted to be liberators; not occupiers. Right now it’s not going that way. The President is right to insist on the June 30th date to transfer power, but there has to be someone in place to transfer it to.

It’s become axiomatic to say, “let’s involve the UN or the Europeans,” but neither of those will help. There’s too much glee among our so-called allies about the dilemma we are now facing.

On the other hand, we haven’t sufficiently tried to involve Iraqis in the process. We haven’t sufficiently taken into account their religious sensitivities.

There are millions of Iraqis who want stability and self determination. They don’t want to be ruled by another gang of thugs, at most only marginally better than Saddam Hussein. Those are the people whose support we must obtain even if it means yielding some of our own freedom to maneuver.