Friday, December 8, 2006

Raimondo on Iraq: The US Cannot Wait Until 2008

At a time when the Baker report on the Iraq quagmire has proven to be a dud, we can at least recognize one fundamental reality. The US needs to simply get real and get out of there before doing any further damage.

In any event, we can't wait for 2008 to get the troops out of Iraq, for the simple reason that it's too dangerous to keep them there. The primary destabilizing factor in the region is the presence of American troops in Iraq. As long as they are there, the insurgents have a cause to rally around, as does Sadr's Mahdi Army. Every day the conflict comes closer to spilling over Iraq's porous borders, into Syria, Iran – and beyond. The longer we stay, the more chances there are of a regional conflagration breaking out.

Left to their own devices, the Iraqis will sort things out. It may not be a pretty sight: but, then again, it never was that pretty to begin with. The long, slow withdrawal of American forces from Iraq envisioned by Baker-Hamilton endangers our troops unnecessarily, and the prospect of "embedding" American soldiers in Iraqi-led units is even worse. The insurgents are already infiltrating Iraqi military and police units: "embedding" them alongside these characters is bound to prove fatal for a large number of our best soldiers. If we are going to get out, then let us get out pronto – and leave the Iraqis to determine their own future. If that future is a dark one, then the inescapable knowledge that we are largely responsible may act as a brake on our brashness and willingness to intervene elsewhere.

If one wishes to be merely Machiavellian about it, how about considering the potential of large portions of the US Army being surrounded without further access to the energy resources needed to fuel an escape? Think Little Big Horn on a grander and more cataclysmic scale.

In the meantime, the Democrats would be well advised to use their new mandate to force a withdrawal from this disastrous and unpopular war, rather than merely continuing to fund the on-going disaster and meekly hoping for more "oversight". It's a point that Dennis Kucinich makes with the good horse sense that seems to be missing among much of the crowd of Beltway elites.

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