Blaming Defeat On Iraq Won't Work
But of course, while Piate's hands may have been freshly soaped for a moment in time, he did not escape the curse of history, which lived long, long after his decision to absolve himself from the fate of the man who stood before him.
I was reminded of this when reading the summation of McCain advisor Robert Kagan's column on the latest trendy excuse for leaving Iraq: We tried, but the Iraqi government couldn't get it together:
Republican leaders think they're being clever in saying that if there is no progress by September, or by the end of 2008, we will have to wash our hands of the whole mess. That's nonsense. Defeat will be no more tolerable in January 2009 than it is now. And it won't matter whom we try to blame.Kagan makes the point that we are, in fact, fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and the Iraqis are doing the same. He notes that 80 percent of the suicide bombers are al Qaeda recruits from outside Iraq, not Iraqis. He reminds us that there is a government in Baghdad and it is working towards a unification or peace plan, and that many Sunnis and Shi'ites are on the same side, the side of peace and a new Iraq.
When was the Declaration of Independence written? When was the Constitution ratified? Right -- it took us 13 years. But we're on microwave time now, and the Hot Pocket of a new Iraq should have beeped itself done in 13 weeks or 13 months -- not HOLY COW! four years!
Cowardly retreat, even under the "blame it on Iraq" scenario that seems so convenient, is not a viable option. If we take that course, we will have walked out on Iraq twice, we will have shown a belligerant enemy that we are not up for a sustained fight, and we will leave a country that is closer than ever to democracy to the Islamist despots who will drag it into civil war.
We are not seeing a civil war in Iraq now; we will if we leave.
If you look at what's happening today -- a sustained US-Iraq attack on the Mahdi militia -- you see evidence that many Iraqis are sick of the sectarian violence and are willing to fight insurgent/religious leaders they protected earlier.
There are other sides, of course, like Edward Wong, who writes in today's NYTimes Magazine a pessimistic piece that paints the Iraqis as primitives incapable of compromise and collaboration:
PERHAPS no fact is more revealing about Iraq’s history than this: The Iraqis have a word that means to utterly defeat and humiliate someone by dragging his corpse through the streets.
The word is “sahel,” and it helps explain much of what I have seen in three and a half years of covering the war.
It is a word unique to Iraq, my friend Razzaq explained over tea one afternoon on my final tour. Throughout Iraq’s history, he said, power has changed hands only through extreme violence, when a leader was vanquished absolutely, and his destruction was put on display for all to see.
He feels there is much violence ahead for Iraq, that they won't stop until everyone gets dismembered and dragged through the streets.
If we concentrate and commit, we can rid Iraq of al Qaeda, and if we do that, we stop the car bombs in the bazaars and at the police stations, and give Iraq the opportunity to do two very important things: Be free, and see America as a country that can be trusted.
No other option will accomplish that.
hat-tip: Real Clear Politics; Art: Passion of Christ