Democrats, including panel chairman Sen. Carl Levin, say U.S. troops should begin to pull out of Iraq to put pressure on the Iraqis to take more responsibility and make political agreements that could help calm sectarian violence. Republicans have opposed a firm withdrawal deadline, although several say their patience is wearing thin.Senator Levin is saying the same thing as virtually every prominent person who'd like to get shut of Iraq, whether of the Democratic persuasion ("what a great stinking albatross to tie around the necks of the GOP for our political gain in '08!") or the Republican ("damn, I don't want this stinking albatross tied 'round my neck for my Democratic opponent's political gain in '08!"). What the great consensus is saying, if I may summarize, is: Those (shiftless / towelheaded / childlike / recalcitrant / tribal) Iraqis aren't like us. They don't want a liberal democracy. They don't know how to log-roll and compromise. Just look at the situation: we got rid of Evil Hitler Stalin Mussolini Pol Pot Beelzebub Saddam Hussein for them, and four years later, they're still killing us and each other and our "Iraqi" collaborator, sock-puppet "government" is going on vacation when they're supposed to be meeting our demands and benchmarks and stuff. That's why we need a different policy: because their swarthy-brown butts aren't worth the pain and trouble they're causing us, and by golly, our patience is (worn thin / not unlimited / at an end).
Last month, Bush signed war spending legislation that — for the first time in the four-year war — conditioned U.S. aid for the Iraqis on Baghdad's ability to meet certain milestones.
When pressed by Levin on whether the U.S. should do more to pressure the Iraqis, Lute said Baghdad is already keenly aware that they have a "golden opportunity" afforded to them and that time is running out. But with the Iraqi government up and running for only about a year, Lute said there are limits to what it can do.
"I think that this isn't solely a question of leverage," said Lute.
Committee members signaled their support for Lute's nomination, but questioned his assessment that applying more leverage might not work. They also questioned whether the new job would make a difference in Iraq.
"How much more time should we give after four years in Iraq?" asked Levin, D-Mich.
"Baghdad is burning while the Iraqi politicians avoid accepting responsibility for their country's future," he added. "I believe the only chance to get Iraqi politicians to stand up is when they know we are going to begin to stand down."
My country will not cease to throw its weight around internationally until we Americans face a few unpleasant things. A few "inconvenient truths," so to speak. One is that "Iraq" is the fairly recent invention of the Western powers. Another is that the late
I wish that America had the national capability to look at the situation in Iraq and say, We're leaving right away; we have wronged you very badly, and we recognize that we can't, in fact, clean up the mess we made. We see that every additional day we're here is simply one more day of death and destruction for both you and us -- mostly you, of course. We acknowledge our guilt, but the best we can do now is to go home and promise never to do this again.
I don't know how such a capability is acquired. I pessimistically suspect it involves having our own country thoroughly invaded, conquered, and devastated. I surely hope there's an easier way.