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Monday, March 26, 2007

WITHDRAWAL FROM IRAQ

The Iraq invasion blunder has led to a seemingly unsolvable dilemma. Continue the debacle or withdraw and risk chaos in the region that we have made more dangerous.

Two obstacles repeatedly claimed by Republicans are clearly false. Setting a timetable will not amount to a signal for insurgents and other malcontents to lie low and plan their nasty deeds for the day we leave. What do we think they are doing now? Everyone knows that we will leave sometime and can plan for that. Moreover, withdrawal is not a one day affair; it will be planned for and executed over a period of time that can be used to hatch new plots.

Also, stopping combat in Iraq and "fighting them over there" will not keep them from "attacking us over here". First, the Iraqi civil war fighters are not going to swim over here to get us. Secondly, the real terrorists. in Iraq and elsewhere, are surely planning daily to do everything they can to harm us here.

So, what do we do now? The surge goes on and its results should be known by September. That is when withdrawal and redeployment should start. If the surge achieves some success, the Iraq government should be in a better position to govern and provide security. If the surge provides little or no improvement, we can conclude that there is no reasonable way that we can succeed in making work Iraq through our continued occupation. Iraq has a government. Leave Iraq to the Iraqis.

It is too bad that we can't trust this president to make intelligent decisions about Iraq. If possible, the funding on Iraq should be continued past September only if withdrawal and redeployment has begun. There is right now a seemingly irresolvable impass on funding conditions. Let's hope that a wise compromise can be reached, allowing for changes if on the ground conditions warrant, but keeping the pressure on for withdrawals in the Fall.

What is clear is that we must leave Iraq to the Iraqis, whether that leads to more internal strife or a united society. We will have to take on the burden of guarding against regional involvement.

It is also clear that we need to provide advice and financial support for reconstruction and funds to help refugees and others displaced as a result of our invasion and occupation. We owe Iraq this; what we don't owe Iraq are more American lives.

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