Troop withdrawal deadlines have become inevitable. The end of U.S. involvement in the war in Iraq could be near now that, according to Reuters News , national security adviser Mowaffaq al-Rubaie has said his country will not sign any security agreement with the United States that does not include a timetable for withdrawal of troops.
The remarks follow recent suggestions for a timetable from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. A spokesman added that a timetable would be contingent upon security conditions upon the ground.
Though Washington is dismissing the idea, the hard truth the White House must now face about this experiment with “democracy” in the Middle East is that Iraq belongs to the Iraqis. For months we’ve ignored the fact that we’ve destroyed the country’s infrastructure, leaving its citizens without running water, adequate sewage or reliable electricity. We’ve shot Iraqi civilians without fear of prosecution, and our leaders have dismissed countless more who just got in the way as “collateral damage.”
Both the presence and lack of other policies have contributed to chaos in Iraq, in neighboring countries and in the United States. Reports from 60 Minutes and others have revealed that, despite the surge and return of some refugees, instability in the country has displaced more than 4 million Iraqi citizens. Many who have returned have done so only because their savings have been depleted. Christians, who have lived safely in Iraq for about 2,000 years, are still being persecuted.
Also according to 60 Minutes , the insurgents who have attacked our troops and innocent Iraqis have been aided by the weapons and billions of dollars from the U.S. that have allegedly been misappropriated by the Iraqi government. And unless you’ve been living under a rock, you already know the price our country has paid in lives lost and ruined as well as additional funds we’ve misspent or not spent when we should have.
In the midst of the chaos we’ve created, with straight faces members of both parties have chastised the Iraqis for not pulling their own weight. Now we’re being shown the door, like a pesky house guest who doesn’t know when to leave, because Iraqi politicians fear they won’t be re-elected.
Of course, the timing of al-Rubaie’s announcement is a little awkward. The Iraqis have announced plans to increase their oil production at a time when prices are the highest in history. According to Bill Moyers Journal , for the first time since Saddam Hussein denied us access to his country’s oil more than 20 years ago, we have been negotiating no-bid contracts to tap what has been called the second largest oil supply in the world.
According to Reuters, the Iraqi people themselves are afraid that if the troops are withdrawn too quickly, the levels of violence that preceded the surge will escalate again. To the contrary, some experts have suggested that the violence has continued because of our presence.
And while we’ve been distracted in Iraq, violence in Afghanistan, the original base of the people who attacked us, has escalated again.
Let’s stop pretending that plans to prolong our involvement in the fighting in Iraq are about leaving with honor. There’s nothing honorable about having asked people to die to perpetuate lies, not knowing how to fix the damage from those lies, or not knowing when to stop lying.
Correction: The original post attributed al-Rubaie’s withdrawal request to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.