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US Withdrawl from Iraq


Surveys in Iraq are quite difficult because the invasion and occupation have created a catastrophe that is virtually without parallel.

I can’t think of another war where journalists had to stay pretty much within a heavily fortified zone or travel around surrounded by heavily armed troops. But it’s not impossible. The British ministry of defence did a study a few months ago, leaked to the right-wing press in England and then reported by other journals, which provided some interesting information. According to their findings, 82% are opposed to presence of coalition troops, 1% think they improve security, 70% have no confidence in them, 45% of all Iraqis think attacks against the occupying forces are legitimate — if that really means “all Iraqis,” as reported, then the figure must be considerably higher among Iraqi Arabs.

We can’t find out for sure what Iraqis want — or what Americans want. But there are some general principles that ought to be observed. One is that invaders have no rights, only responsibilities, and among those responsibilities is to follow the will of the victims (and to provide reparations, trials for the criminals who ordered the invasion, and others). A subsidiary principle is that unless there is strong evidence that the victims want the invaders to remain, they should withdraw. US-UK policy is the opposite, with bipartisan and media support: We decide, and we will “stay the course” as long as we — not they — decide to do so.

That aside, there’s a small point that doesn’t enter into public discussion. It would be an utter catastrophe for the US if it were to withdraw and leave a sovereign and partially democratic Iraq in place. That’s why comparisons to Vietnam are so meaningless, and why the exit strategies that are proposed are a waste of time. The Pentagon can easily think them up, without help (thank you), but can’t execute them because the US must somehow maintain control of Iraq through a dependable client regime, with basing rights, etc.

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