Pulling Out of Iraq

On Tuesday, the Senate passed a resolution calling for regular reports and pushing for a handover to Iraqi primacy. The vote was 79-19. The argument on the right was that this would send a terrible signal to Iraq that we’re going to cut and run. On Thursday Rep. Murtha proposed immediate withdrawal. On Friday, the House voted on an immediate withdrawal resolution sponsored by the GOP that was stark in its simplicity “the deployment of United States forces be terminated immediately.” The measure failed 403-3.

Amazingly nobody, not the left or the right, seems to be analyzing this in terms of what this message sends to the people of Iraq. It’s all inside baseball, chickenhawk v cut & run, and US patriotism. Where concerns about what they’ll think in Iraq are brought up at all, it’s about our own troops in Iraq and how they’ll react. This doesn’t scan, not in the least.

What we should be worried about is the guy on the bubble, torn between joining up for the police or the Iraqi army and staying on the sideline. What will he make of these events? Did the Senate action dismay him? Did the House action buoy his spirits? Will the new week see him decide to join the long line of applicants or not? We should deeply care about that. Our chattering classes seem to have abdicated the only real, serious question that matters. Inside baseball, for them, is so much more entertaining.

16 thoughts on “Pulling Out of Iraq”

  1. I did not read the text of the Senate resolution, but the idea of more frequent reports need not be a bad thing. Bush should be doing much, much more than he has to notify the public and the Congress of what is going on, where progress is being made, etc. I have Winston Churchill’s seven volumes of war speeches. He was constantly speaking and giving fairly detailed assessments of what was going on. His reports to the House of Commons take pages and pages and must have taken over an hour to give live. Churchill understood that a democracy at war needs to be consulted and re-enlisted in the war effort, constantly.

    The overwhelming vote in the House sends a much stronger signal. Bush, the Commander in Chief is solidly behind the war. The only way he could be thwarted is if Congress refused to pay for it. The House is where budgets originate. They just sent a clear signal that they are supporting the war effort.

    So, an Iraqi should realize that the Americans are in the war for at least another year and probably for at least three years.

    However, if he is really on the ball, he will realize that the Americans will probably pull out after the 2008 elections. So, will Iraq be ready for that or not? I don’t know and I don’t know if anybody does know.

  2. The problem wasn’t in the reports requirement of the Senate resolution. The DoD apparently missed 2 quarterly reports and that’s a real problem that needs to be fixed. Oversight must be maintained or the system will not work. The problem is in other language:

    The resolution calls for 2006 to be “a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty,” which would create conditions for “the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.”

    The worry is that the other side will start to plan for “if only we can hold out to 2007”.

    Had the House not immediately voted as they did, this week would have featured a one, two punch that would have led to unfortunate conclusions being drawn. The House vote is not being put in its proper context, international message sending.

    Or is it? I’d love to see links to reasoned analysis with a timestamp before my post that counters my assertion.

  3. The Senate resolution was very bad in political context, and the House vote in response may not fully have healed the damage that it caused.

    Friday’s WSJ had an excellent editorial on this topic:

    The resolution — which passed 79-19 — sounds innocuous enough: It calls for 2006 to be “a period of significant transition to full Iraqi sovereignty, with Iraqi security forces taking the lead for the security of a free and sovereign Iraq, thereby creating the conditions for the phased redeployment of United States forces from Iraq.”
    That’s pretty much exactly what the White House has in mind assuming next month’s Iraqi elections go smoothly. But the harm of the Senate adding its voice here is that it turns the sound strategy of Iraqification into a suggestion that the U.S. might cut and run if the terrorists can prevent things from moving forward exactly as planned.
    That was the barely veiled threat from GOP Armed Services Committee Chairman John Warner, who drafted the resolution. He said he wanted to send a “strong message to Iraqi people and the Iraqi government that you have got to come to grip with your internal problems. . . . It’s a signal to the Iraqis that we mean business.”
    Thousands of Iraqis have already died in our joint war against terrorism and thousands more risk their lives every day. And now they get accused of not understanding that this is all serious “business” by a Senator eight time zones from the front lines. Majority Leader Bill Frist did his reputation no good by allowing this spectacle, even if it was intended to give skittish GOP Members a voting alternative to the Democrats’ withdrawal policy. The way our enemy will read this is: Even the President’s party is losing its nerve.

  4. Another message to Iraqis nobody seems to think about: “We are fighting them in Iraq so we won’t have to fight them here”, as Bush likes to put it.

    It’s not a bad point per se, but it tells Iraqis that “We are fighting them in your country, so we won’t have to do it in ours”

    I don’t think that this necessarily increases their affection for America. It would be better to stop making that point, at least in public.

  5. This is what is emboldened with talk of “pullout”.

    The key points of differences were the issue of the Ba’ath party and the “armed resistance”. Al-Dhari unsurprisingly demanded the government to recognize the armed resistance which he described as a “legitimate right for all occupied peoples”. He also demanded ending what he called the “marginalization of certain factions” which is a clear reference to the de-ba’athification policy. Finally he insisted that a timetable must be put for withdrawing foreign forces from Iraq and he also mentioned the calls made by some US Democrats’ recent call for an immediate withdrawal to justify his demands.
    Ironically, the most extreme faction in Iraq has only demanded a timetable but not an immediate withdrawal of troops like some US politicians did!

    This should change the debate from “We are fighting them in Iraq so we won’t have to fight them here” TO…. “We are fighting them in Iran, so we won’t have to fight them here” (here, meaning Iraq)

    The first official car-bomb commercial I see!
    Check out this clip from Iranian TV which came to show us an example of how far hatred can go in a media controlled by a regime led by someone like Ahmedinejad whose administration is clearly and openly encouraging murder, suicide and racism.

    Now I don’t live in Jerusalem but I live in Baghdad and daily car-bombs had been causing endless death and suffering for us, so how are we supposed to feel about Iran when we watch such a call for mass murders?
    Jerusalem, Baghdad, New York or Madrid or any other city in this world; aren’t these all cities that must submit to the rule of the Imam/Caliphate in the sick ideology of the Mullahs or al-Qaeda.

    The world must wake up to this serious and imminent threat that seems so willing to destroy other nations. The UN’s reaction to Ahmedinejad’s threats to destroy whole nations in the region and burn anyone doesn’t agree with him was WEAK and didn’t meet the requirements of the escalating situation.
    I don’t what are we waiting for here! There is a regime in Iran that is so keen on developing nuclear power while throwing threats here and there.
    Why should we wait till something really bad happens? I mean COME ON… it’s so obvious what the Mullahs and Nejad are planning to do.

    All of the above comes from http://iraqthemodel.blogspot.com/
    from the right side bar on Chicago Boyz.

    Should one click on Iraq The Model, do click on the “car bomb commercial” from “Iranian TV”

  6. Ralf Goergens – Yes, it sucks to be an Iraqi. Then again, that’s been true for a long time. It sucked to be a Romanian for centuries. The Turk to the SE, Russia to the NE, Austro-Hungary to the west, it was downright difficult to survive. Any outside aid, even done out of pure, naked self interest, would have been welcome. Unfortunately, such aid wasn’t to plentiful on the ground.

    Don Cesar – To say that Iraq is occupied is to say that the current government (which has asked that the Coalition continue on in Iraq) is illegitimate. A legitimate Iraqi government tendering such an invitation would not be occupied, no matter how many troops were on its soil. Only by saying that the Iraqi government is illegitimate can the charge of occupation be made to stick.

  7. Zoltan Biro — Surprisingly interesting link. I was inclined initially to think you were putting up some kind of spam, but the idea that Palestinians should advance their interests in the USA by participating in the political process is exactly correct. The idea of a skyscraper-sized minaret in Manhattan may take some hard selling, though.

  8. I had the same reaction. His reference to Afghanistan and Iraq as unfree since they were invaded by the US tells you which side he is on. However, his demographic and political arguments are interesting. It’s worth a read.

  9. Yes, this symbol of brotherhood is at least a positive and in some ways worthy goal. It certainly seems more full of life and joy than the others we’ve seen. Still, I’d be more comfortable if I understood what he sees as a “weak” Israel and what he means by “free” in terms of Palestine, Jerusalem, Afghanistan and Iraq. His positions show “which side,” yes, but I’m curious about what he means.

  10. Why is the minaret towering over all the other buildings in the Allah.hu site? Is it just artistic license or is it a modern expression of the ancient rules laid out in dhima agreements that the mosque cannot be overshadowed by somebody else’s building. When somebody proposes a larger building than that minaret, what will happen? Will there be muslim cries that their religion is being disrespected?

    If someone decides to join Islam and then subsequently decides to leave, what happens to them? Will they need to fear for their lives as they have to in certain countries in the ME? Conversions are not a one way gate in the american tradition.

    The idea that the only reason jews get political support is their own political activism is breathtakingly inaccurate. The persistent attempts by muslims to humiliate and kill christians in the ME activates a numerically significant number of that faith in active opposition to Islam in all its forms. The ugly political, economic, and social repression activates even more people to resist the spread of Islam.

  11. My first thought on seeing the giant-minaret image was: this guy wants Muslims to conquer the USA and create a symbol of Islamic dominance. Clearly he did not focus-group his concept with NYC residents. Or maybe he wants to establish Islamic dominance. His definition of freedom seems to be “Islamic dominance.” Perhaps that is also his definition of harmony between the Muslim world and the West. In any event it would be odd for the city that was attacked to build the friendship monument. Where is the giant Statue of Liberty in Cairo or Riyadh?

  12. TML and Jonathan. Agreed on all points. But, still, at least the guy is talking about using the political process to promote his goals and not, say, dynamite strapped under overcoats on teenaged girls. From the Muslims, at this point, damn near anything pointing in the right direction is progress.

  13. From the website: “France takes a stand for the freedom of Palestine and condemns American intervention in Iraq.”

    Doesn’t that make France anti-Muslim? You pretty well have to be against Muslims to wish 27 million of them were still under Saddam’s rule.

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