By: E&P Staff
After four years of war and occupation in Iraq, only a handful of newspapers had called for U.S. disengagement until this past spring summer. Now their ranks are increasing almost every day — following what some feel was a disapponting or heavily manipulated “surge” report by General Petraeus and President Bush — with a prime addition this week of The Miami Herald.
The Chicago Sun-Times chimed in on Sunday: “The military shouldn’t be judged by some mysterious and wavering yardstick. Our brave men and women fighting the war shouldn’t be working toward promises that Bush obviously can’t deliver in his presidency. What does the U.S. military have to achieve in Iraq to reduce our troops — not just to our pre-surge force of more than 130,000 troops but the far more significantly scaled-down troop numbers voters have demanded?”
Here is an escerpt from the Herald editorial.
Note to the White House: Most Americans aren’t on your clock. The notion that Iraq’s leaders haven’t had enough time to set up a functional government four and a half years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein is not convincing.
Nor is Mr. Bush likely to win any converts to his side when he once again tries to conflate the war in Iraq with the war against terrorism by saying a free Iraq will deny al Qaeda a safe haven. Even if every al Qaeda terrorist in Iraq were eliminated today, U.S. soldiers would still find themselves in the middle of a fierce civil war that shows few signs of abating.
Mr. Bush’s presentation on Thursday was in the same vein as many of his previous speeches on Iraq. His certainty about the rightness of his course seems to grow in direct proportion to the increasing amount of evidence that the policy is not working. His speech ignored the quandary that faces U.S. forces in Iraq: The situation will not necessarily improve if they remain — even Gen. David Petraeus could not offer a guarantee of eventual success — but it will probably get worse if they withdraw.
Despite the bleak prognosis, Democrats in Congress are unlikely to force an early withdrawal. Their best chance of imposing a significant change of direction is to try once again to mandate that troops who have served in Iraq not be shoveled back into the furnace until they have had a significant period of garrison duty back home. The troops have been overused to the point of breaking. Pressure for humane rotations would force a gradual reduction in troop levels that stops short of a quick exit.
This may not lead to the honorable exit that Americans desire, but it avoids the worst scenarios and offers an honorable way to support the troops.