Bring them home
WHATEVER THE future holds, the United States has not "lost" and cannot "lose" Iraq. It was never ours in the first place. And however history will judge the war, some key U.S. goals have been accomplished: Saddam Hussein has been ousted, tried and executed; Iraqis have held three elections, adopted a constitution and established a rudimentary democracy.That's right - as I have said here before the United States can't lose. Dick Cheney and the oil imperialists can and will lose no matter how long the US stays but the longer we stay the greater the loss for the United States.
But what now? After four years of war, more than $350 billion spent and 3,363 U.S. soldiers killed and 24,310 wounded, it seems increasingly obvious that an Iraqi political settlement cannot be achieved in the shadow of an indefinite foreign occupation. The U.S. military presence — opposed by more than three-quarters of Iraqis — inflames terrorism and delays what should be the primary and most pressing goal: meaningful reconciliation among the Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds.
This newspaper reluctantly endorsed the U.S. troop surge as the last, best hope for stabilizing conditions so that the elected Iraqi government could assume full responsibility for its affairs. But we also warned that the troops should not be used to referee a civil war. That, regrettably, is what has happened.
The mire deepens against a backdrop of domestic U.S. politics in which support for the ill-defined mission wanes by the week. Better to begin planning a careful, strategic withdrawal from Iraq now, based on the strategies laid out by the Iraq Study Group, than allow for the 2008 campaign season to create a precipitous pullout.
With four out of five additional battalions now in place, there is no reason to believe that the surge will help bring about an end to what is, in fact, a multifaceted civil war. The only bright spot is in Al Anbar province, where Sunni tribal leaders have joined U.S. forces in the fight against foreign Al Qaeda fighters. They deserve our continuing support. But as long as civil war rages in Iraq, even the post-surge force of 160,000 troops cannot achieve more than marginal progress.
All we have to do is look at the headlines to see how true this is:
- Iraq War Hampers Kansas Cleanup
- White House: U.S. should brace for more casualties
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After another bloody weekend for U.S. troops in Iraq, the White House said on Monday Americans should brace for more U.S. casualties in the push for greater security in Baghdad.
Eight U.S. soldiers were killed on Sunday in roadside bomb attacks and were among 12 whose deaths were announced, following an April in which more than 100 died.
- Stress on Troops Adds to U.S. Hurdles in Iraq
The detailed mental health survey of troops in Iraq released by the Pentagon on Friday highlights a growing worry for the United States as it struggles to bring order to Baghdad: the high level of combat stress suffered during lengthy and repeated tours.
It's not just the LA Times