Iraq to U.S.: Time to Go

I posted earlier about Rep. John Murtha’s recent change of heart on Iraq, but I didn’t have much to say about the absurd political theater that ensued afterwards, with Republicans attempting to trap Democrats with a meaningless vote on withdrawal. Honestly, it kind of bores me, in the same way watching a movie that telegraphs every plot twist and ends just the way I thought it would bores me.

What’s worse, it’s a movie I didn’t want to see, but got dragged along for anyway. Then it not only bores me, it also pisses me off.

The latest predictable plot twist is that Iraq’s political factions are now calling for a U.S. withdrawal.


For the first time, Iraq’s political factions collectively called today for a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces, in a moment of consensus that comes as the Bush administration battles pressure at home to commit to a pullout schedule.

The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq’s government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.

… The statement, while condemning the wave of terrorism that has engulfed Iraq, also broadly acknowledged a general right to resist foreign occupation. This was another effort to compromise with Sunnis who have sought to legitimize the insurgency. The statement condemned terror attacks and religious backing for it, and it demanded the release of innocent prisoners. (emphasis added)

That last bit deserves a bit of clarification, which comes from the U.K. Guardian (hat tip to Nitpicker).

The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens. (emphasis added)

It’s funny to me how sometimes the simplest of concepts takes considerable time to filter through to some people — people in this country anyway — simple concepts like people tend not to like it when foreign powers invade and occupy their countries, and that the presence of U.S. forces in Iraq is very likely fueling the insurgency. They probably won’t even get it when the Iraqis themselves issue a statement that basically says just that.

The writing has been on the wall for some time now where Iraq is concerned, even before the first tank rolled, the first bomb dropped, or the first pair of American combat boots hit the ground. The difference between Iraq and the biblical story alluded to above is that this disaster was avoidable.

And that’s what it is, if you ask me; a man-made disaster that didn’t need to happen. I can’t even get my brain around the idea that it’s a “mistake.” As far as I’m concerned, because to me a mistake isn’t something you do deliberately, particularly if you’ve been clearly warned of the likely outcome. Iraq wasn’t a mistake. It was deliberate pursuit of disaster.

Plenty of us knew it and said so before the invasion. The Iraqis know it and now they’re saying it. It’s probably inevitable that we will withdraw from Iraq. We said we would if the Iraqis asked us to.

Secretary of State Colin Powell emphatically said yesterday that if the incoming Iraqi interim government ordered the departure of foreign troops after June 30, they would pack up without protest, but emphasized he doubted such a request would be made.

… “If the provisional government asks us to leave, we will leave,” Bremer said, referring to an Iraqi administration due to take power June 30. “I don’t think that will happen, but obviously we don’t stay in countries where we’re not welcome.” (emphasis added)

Plus we’re planning to anyway, if the Army’s decision to no longer call up Individual Ready Reserves for duty in Iraq is any indication. Plus, it might give someone a boost in 2006.

The Army recently announced that it will no longer call up the Individual Ready Reserves for duty in Iraq. The IRRs are retired—in many cases, long-retired—soldiers, who, by contract, are obligated to re-enter the force if called back to arms. This announcement is as clear a sign as any that, whatever George W. Bush and Richard Cheney might say about the likes of Murtha, they too know the troops are coming out. For without the IRRs, the Army will be unable to sustain the present levels for much longer.

It almost doesn’t matter whether withdrawing or redeploying the troops is a good idea; it’s simply going to happen because there is no way for it not to happen (short of a major act of political will, such as reviving the draft or keeping troops on the battlefield beyond reasonable endurance). This is what Murtha meant when he told Russert, “We’re going to be out of there, we’re going to be out of there very quickly, and it’s going to be close to the plan that I’m presenting right now.” (There are political reasons for this near-inevitability, as well. When Murtha predicted we’d be mainly out of Iraq by 2006, Russert asked, “By Election Day 2006?” Murtha responded, “You—you have hit it on the head.”)

So, we’ll pull out and leave Iraq to its destiny (provided we get what we came for in the first place), and chances are a huge chunk of American’s won’t get it any more than they did before this movie started. Even some supposedly smart politicians don’t get it, or think it’s in their interest to pretend that they don’t. Those of us who knew the ending will be somewhat relieved to finally get out the theater. But it still adds up to a colossal waste time, resources, and lives — all things that we can’t get back.

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About Terrance

Black. Gay. Father. Buddhist. Vegetarian. Liberal.
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