(do you support) Setting a time-table for withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq no later than the fall of 2008 60% yes 38% no
Gallup Poll on March 28, 2007.
The war continues to be framed by the Administration, the neo-cons and all the pro-war bloggists as ‘stay and protect the Iraqi and ultimately the American way of life’ or ‘leave and all is lost’.
The American public is not buying this line, but somehow, the administration and its shills and supporters have managed to set the terms of debate. Kind of like when the anti-abortion folks chose ‘pro-life’ as their appellation. Who’s against life, anyway?
But, what about the surge? Let’s take 10,000 policemen and put them in the area of Los Angeles where the ‘Crips’ and the ‘Blood’ hold sway. Put the cops on the corners, in the markets, on regular patrol, in the schools in EVERY corridor, in the churches, in the clubs, in the parks, in so many places that you can’t fail to almost trip over them. I’m guessing that the little old lady afraid to go the market previously will suddenly feel confident that she can make it safely now. The moms scared to let their kids play in the front yard will gladly open their door and let the kids romp wherever they want.
Then, take the cops away. What happens? I suspect things go back to normal. This may be a rough analogy, I realize, but I suspect that our troops are doing a great job, overall, ‘surging’. But, isn’t the ultimate goal to have a safe Iraq, a democratic Iraq, an Iraq that runs its own patrols, polices its own citizenry and defends itself?
Is there ANY evidence that the Iraqi army after all these years is combat ready beyond a handful of battalions? Is there any evidence that the military and police force is not infiltrated with militia members ready to fight for their particular Sunni/Shia cause at the drop of a headscarf? Can anyone tell you how we negotiate with both sides of a civil war?
All the staged strolls through the marketplace can’t mask the fact that after the cameras are off and after the troops move to another market that the civil war underlies and undercuts all of our good intentions.
It’s way past time for accountability. Accountability might not be in the form of a public timetable, but should be in writ large in the form of benchmarks: number of combat ready Iraqi-only battalions, a government that doesn’t tolerate the militias, an Iraqi police force that can handle the streets. Any other plan dooms the United States to permanent residence in Baghdad. Is that really what we want?
If the Democrats don’t set the terms of accountability they have turned a deaf ear to the folks that elected them to the majority in 2006. If Bush vetoes the ‘timetable bill’, strip the pork from the bill and pass it again. Ensure that the Kurdish area of Iraq is protected (no-fly zone like BEFORE THE WAR), and don’t blink.
*And all you good Republicans who have either always opposed this war or have come around.