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It Is Time to Get Out of Iraq

Tuesday, 17 Jul 2007 12:00 PM

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I'm bailing out.

I will no longer defend the policy of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq to assist the Iraqi central government in the ongoing civil war. While our men and women in the military suffer casualties daily, the Iraqi government refuses to take the major political actions required to end the civil war.

The U.S. government told the Iraqi leaders that it needed to achieve 18 goals. Our administration's recent report to the U.S. Congress on how close the Iraqis have come to achieving those goals states that eight have been achieved, no progress has been made on eight others, and two have had mixed results.

With regard to the most important goals, which include bringing the Sunni population into the government with the Shia by removing the bans against those (primarily Sunnis) who had served in the prior Baathist regime of Saddam Hussein, the grade was zero.

The Iraqi government similarly received a zero for failing to enact legislation that would equitably divide the oil income it receives among the three ethnic regions of Kurds, Sunni, and Shia. Currently the Kurds and Shia share the oil revenues and have no problem doing so because the oil fields are located in the areas they control. The Sunni areas have very few oil fields.

For well over a year, I have urged the administration to issue an ultimatum to our Muslim allies of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait, all Sunni nations and our NATO allies in Europe. Unless they joined us with boots on the ground and contributed to the ongoing cost of the war against al-Qaida and the insurgency in both Iraq and Afghanistan, we would leave.

The cost to date for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan is computed at about $400 billion and currently at $12 billion a month in Iraq. The Bush administration declined to do that, opting instead for what they call the surge, increasing our military forces to 160,000 by bringing in an additional 30,000 American troops. The Iraqis were asked to improve the battle readiness of their troops as well.

In September, our new commanding general on the ground, David Petraeus — hopefully President Bush's Gen. Grant who won the American Civil War — will report on whether the surge is working. But already the administration suggests that September may not give us enough time to determine success or failure. In any event, Gen. Petraeus has stated that political changes by the Iraqi government are necessary and that military progress by itself is not enough.

The media recently reported that American soldiers on the ground fear they are being betrayed by and fired upon by both the Iraqi army engaged on the ground as their allies and by members of the Iraqi police force who often act as illegal militia, killing Iraqi civilians in the ongoing civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims.

The American people no longer support our presence in Iraq. They made that clear in the 2006 congressional election when the majority in both houses of Congress shifted to the Democrats. My own position has been that we were better off fighting Islamic terrorism in Iraq than abandoning and having that battle shift to American soil which I am certain will happen when we depart Iraq. But my support for remaining in Iraq was conditioned on our allies joining us in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Sadly, very few have done so. Instead, many of those same allies criticize us for staying in Iraq.

Only one major ally, Great Britain, has joined us with any serious contribution of troops. Even that in numbers — 7,100 — that are paltry compared to our 140,000 troops now increased to 160,000. Tony Blair was cast out as prime minister in part because he supported the U.S. in Iraq. Under the new prime minister, Laborite Gordon Brown, the British commitment is shrinking and the inevitability of a minimal and ultimately no British troop presence is clear.

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki stated over the weekend, "We say with confidence that we are capable, God willing, of taking full responsibility for the security file if the international forces withdraw in any time they wish."

The civil war escalates.

This week alone, on a single day, more than 100 Iraqi civilians were killed and near 200 injured in two car bombings in the ongoing civil war. The statement of Iraq's prime minister, whether accurate or not, gives even the diehard supporters of George W. Bush the reason they need to support what most Americans desperately want: a pullout of American forces from Iraq.

Our soldiers cannot end the civil war for them. Their soldiers have to do that. My voice is a modest one, so I would like to buttress my position with the arguments for withdrawal provided by the highly regarded New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. In his July 11 column, he gave his reasons for supporting departure:

Getting out has at least four advantages. First, no more Americans will be dying while refereeing a civil war. Second, the fear of an all-out civil war, as we do prepare to leave, may be the last best hope for getting the Iraqis to reach an 11th-hour political agreement. Third, as the civil war in Iraq plays out, it could, painfully, force the realignment of communities on the ground that may create a more stable foundation upon which to build a federal settlement.

Fourth, we will restore our deterrence with Iran. Tehran will no longer be able to bleed us through its proxies in Iraq, and we will be much freer to hit Iran — should we ever need to — once we're out. Moreover, Iran will by default inherit management of the mess in southern Iraq, which, in time, will be an enormous problem for Tehran.

I adopt Friedman's reasons as mine and repeat that I would support our troops remaining in Iraq if our allies were to join us. But they have made it clear they will not.

I propose that we do what the British did when they withdrew their troops from the historic Palestine Mandate they had assumed in 1922. They simply notified the United Nations that they would be gone by May 15, 1948, and they were, leaving to the U.N. to decide what it would do. It voted to partition Palestine and create two states: one Jewish and one Arab. Palestinians and Arab nations rejected the U.N. solution and waged war against the new Jewish state of Israel. With the exception of Egypt and Jordan, they still continue in a state of war with Israel, 59 years later.

I believe we can be out of Iraq in a few months if we want to leave, departing by way of Turkey in the north and via Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan in the south and west. We should leave to the Iraqi army the supplies and materials they will need to protect themselves and take all else with us, after first arming the Kurds. Common decency requires that we take with us those Iraqi civilians who helped us and would be in danger when we left.

We should prepare for the battles that will take place on American soil by the Islamic forces of terror who are engaged in a war that will be waged by them against Western civilization for at least the next 30 years. They must be defeated for if, God forbid, they defeat us they will put us, the infidels, to the sword. They refer to Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, and other Muslims they disagree with religiously as infidels.

Remember the words of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed after he killed Danny Pearl on Feb. 1, 2002: "I decapitated with my blessed right hand the head of the American Jew, Daniel Pearl, in the City of Karachi, Pakistan."

He is the same Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that CNN referred to as "the suspected mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks." He is now in American custody.

Remember, they have threatened to kill Pope Benedict XVI.

Remember also how we refused to take seriously the threats Adolf Hitler made in his book Mein Kampf. There were only 80 million Germans at the start of World War II. There are now one billion 400 million Muslims. There is still not yet a majority who subscribe to the Wahabist fundamentalist belief popular in Saudi Arabia that they have a duty to kill the infidel who will not convert or pay tribute. But there are tens of millions of Muslim fanatics, including English doctors, who believe that is their sacred duty.

Wake up, America.

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