The psychological pull-out has already begun even if the troops haven’t started packing their bags yet. That the withdrawal is well underway can be heard clearly if you pay close attention. Yesterday, Colin Powell’s remark that American troops would start returning home this year is no off the cuff trial balloon floating-Powell is nothing if not deliberate.
Was it not just the other day we were hearing that we needed more troops to do the job? Clearly a major change in policy is in the works and this is just the first noise we are going to hear about letting the Iraqis clean up the mess themselves. All the fine words about long-term commitment will not be retracted because to do so would be to admit error and we certainly can have none of that. The premature withdrawal will instead be explained in terms of fulfilling the plan for the incremental hand-over in power that was in place all along.
What constitutes premature depends, I suppose, on perspective. From the vantage point of before the commencement of the invasion, I doubt there were too many sober minded individuals making the case that we would be in and out of Iraq in less than three years. I think most informed Americans, certainly myself, anticipated that we would be in Iraq for an extremely long haul.
The possibility that we might pull out of Iraq more quickly than the space shuttle fleet could be returned to service really never occurred to this Curmudgeon.
There are many little hints that this administration’s ability to keep up the fiction that everything is great in Iraq is straining to the breaking point. The recent revelations of the poor state of the National Guard, the Pentagon beginning an open-ended review of Iraq policy, continual rumblings over postponing elections, and, of course, the continual march of death across our television screens, all combine to give us a sense that finally some Americans are actually daring to speak of the Emperor’s fine birthday suit.
Truthfully, holding slipshod elections and packing our bags for a hasty exit may be the best we can hope for now. Don’t misunderstand me: I am all for staying the course and making sacrifices. I have been consistent and even vitriolic on that very obligation. At some point, however, you have to assess whether our continued presence in Iraq is in the best interests of the Iraqi people and the deepening spiral into civil war that we are seeing play out suggests that perhaps a democratically elected government might have a better shot if they weren’t strapped to a giant target labeled “Made in USA”.
One can hardly blame the Iraqis if they are left with impression that the government-to-be was manufactured by the United States when, by the Presidential Administration’s own words, they say exactly that. Judge for yourself based on this excerpt from the New York Times:
Powell has said it is imperative for the elections to go forward as planned to give more credence to the concept that insurgents are fighting an Iraqi government rather than an American occupation force.
If you were like me, you had to read that twice. What we, through our elected representatives, are saying is that what needs to change is the anti-democratic militia’s “concept” of who they are fighting.
Does anyone in Washington have a “concept” of what they are doing?
In fairness to Powell, those are not his words, but this is the type of stuff you hear constantly out of this Administration. Maybe changing concepts is how you create those new realities of which they are so fond. Unfortunately, the anti-democratic militias in Iraq have a pretty clear agenda and pretty well-defined Reality. Until we choose to begin acting in some version of reality that bears some relationship to Reality, we should resign ourselves to ineffectualness.
We the People may love to be deceived by our home-made self-image, but the people of the Middle-east are shockingly reality based.
Leaving Iraq now is certainly premature. Even beginning the process to leave Iraq now is premature when infrastructure work is nowhere near completion. That we are starting down that road is undeniable. It is time for all Americans to pray for mercy on ourselves because after all of the lies, poor planning and hyperbolic rhetoric, leaving may be the only option. And time also to pray for mercy on the Iraqi people, because after all of the lies, poor planning and hyperbolic rhetoric, our leaving may be the only option.