11.28.2006

Is Now The Time?

Pundits and politicians keep saying that the next six months are critical for the future of Iraq. Their police forces must "stand up so we can stand down". We must see real progress in the rebuilding of the infrastructure. We couldn't possibly leave Iraq right now, but maybe we could start withdrawal in six months...

Unfortunately, we have heard this over the past three years. It's true that we have met milestones for establishing a democracy every now and then: a constitution, elections, the formation of government institutions. But... do they have legitimate power? How easy will it be to overthrow? Will the citizens really care? Or is it more like Afghanistan where we are seeing the Taliban returning to legitimate power without significant outcry from the people...

But let's get back to now. Yes, it is tempting to stick around a little while later to create and meet these symbolic milestones. But what have we purchased with the last six months of sacrifice? What about the last eighteen months? Everybody in the world knows that these democratic institutions won't last if the security situation doesn't improve. It isn't improving. The Marines have announced that we can not win Western Iraq. It's gone. The best we can hope for in the next six months is to win the capability to set foot in 1/3 of the country. That's it. What can we hope to achieve over the next twelve months? Eighteen months?

777 Coalition forces have died since the Iraqi Elections on Dec 12 2005. What have we purchased with those lives? One puppet government. A corrupt police force. A seething quasi civil war. And to be honest, that's what we've purchased with 3100 Coalition lives. And an additional 46,000 wounded. And who knows how many Iraq lives. What will it cost to actually rebuild the infrastructure? To drive out "the enemy"? Another 1,000 Coalition and Iraqi lives? 2,000? 5,000? 10,000? 50,000?

Leaving Iraq was never supposed to be easy. There are always things we could improve, but we have to go sometime. That's why now is the time to tell the people of Iraq that they only have 180 days and then we leave. We have to start issuing Visa's to all of the Iraqi people that have helped us and now want to leave.

And then after six months, we all go. Sure, we will assess the situation. We may have to redeploy back into a few places. But. Now is The Time to say that we're splitting. Leaving will be ugly and messy, but we can't change that. We aren't trying to bring the people of North and South Dakota together. We're trying to smash two armed fundamentalist groups together. It's going to get hella ugly when we leave; it hardly matters if it happens in six months or six years. And that is why NOW is the time to start packing up this war and come back home.

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