Saturday, August 08, 2009

US wants out of Iraq

I remember all the Arabs who screamed about a permanent US presence in Iraq, and demanded resistance. They never screamed as loudly about American bases in Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman. No bombings of markets in Doha, home of the base from which the US launched two wars against Iraq.

'With the level of violence having been tamped down to a degree manageable by Iraqi forces, and with Iraq's sectarian and ethnic political divisions having become an apparently intractable feature of post-Saddam political life that no amount of U.S. cajoling appears likely to resolve, this may be as good as it gets in Iraq. And if so, why should American soldiers hang around until 2011 in a war costing America in the region of $12 billion a month, and whose U.S. casualty count is nearing 4,500 dead and 30,000 wounded?

That question isn't being asked only by liberal anti-war opinion-makers. It has also been raised by a growing number of senior officials in Washington and U.S. commanders in Iraq. An internal memo drafted by Col. Timothy Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi senior military command, and leaked to the New York Times last month, doesn't mince words. He writes that it is time "for the U.S. to declare victory and bring our combat forces home."

The gist of the colonel's argument is that there is nothing significant that a continued U.S. military presence can do to improve either the delivery of "essential services" to Iraqis, or the ability and inclination of Maliki's sloppy and quarrelsome Shi'ite-dominated government to reconcile with the Sunnis and Kurds.

In fact, there are a growing number of warning signs that the Iraqi government is no longer under the sway of their American forces that brought it into being. Reese notes a "sudden coolness" being displayed by Iraqi commanders towards their American counterparts after June 30, the date on which the Status of Forces Agreement concluded between Baghdad and Washington last December required that U.S. combat forces withdraw from Iraq's towns and cities. Following that date, suspects detained by U.S. soldiers were freed by Iraqis. And the Iraqi government openly disdained the recent offer by Vice-President Joe Biden, during a visit to Baghdad, to help mediate in its conflicts with Kurds and Sunnis. Top military adviser Reese likened the relationship between Iraqi and U.S. soldiers to "a father teaching his kid to ride a bike without training wheels, " explaining: "Our hand on the back of the (Iraqis') seat is holding them back and causing resentment. We need to let go before we both tumble to the ground." '

Thanks Maury for posting the link to this article.

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