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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Leave Iraq? We already are

By Dennis Byrne
Political Mavens

While a number of presidential candidate continue to blather about "getting out of Iraq," the truth is that the United States already has begun the process.

In his recent visit to the Middle East, President George W. Bush announced that an Army brigade and a Marine Expeditionary Unit have already returned home, not to be replaced. "In the coming months, four additional brigades and two Marine battalions will follow suit," he said.

In another little noticed development, Bush said that Iraqi forces have "conducted a surge of their own, generating well over 100,000 more Iraqi police and soldiers to sustain the security gains. Tens of thousands of concerned local citizens are protecting their communities, and working with coalition and Iraqi forces to ensure al Qaeda cannot return."

While the president's critics grudgingly acknowledge that although the surge has dampened violence, it hasn't worked because it hasn't brought forth some undefined kind of parliamentary flowering. Yet, one underlying divisive issue--the distribution of oil revenues--has generated enough agreement among the contending Sunni, Shia and Kurd factions--the money now is being parceled out throughout the country. That, in turn, allows Iraqis to address one of the remaining major hurdles: reconstruction. Perhaps most important, the three factions increasingly are working together at the local level.

Contrary to his critics, Bush hasn't buried his head in the sand. Items that he listed on the Iraqis' to-do list were the continued improvement of conditions from "bottom up," passage of a revised de-Baathification law and a national budget, continued growth of Iraqi security forces and their efforts to take the fight to al Qaeda and other extremist groups, the defeat of criminals that are victimizing neighborhoods, the further reduction of the flow of terrorists through Syria and blocking Iran's support of terrorists.

That's quite a load, but it at least is more detailed than the vague demands to "get the troops out of Iraq."

1 comment:

lake county democrat said...

How about this for a non-vague demand: stop spending billions of dollars every *week* in Iraq when the nation is on the brink of recession. There's no free lunch: you have to counterballance the progress made in Iraq by what it's done and is doing to us economically. This is the only war in history where we cut, not raised taxes. Now we're enterring a recession with 1) an already sizeable budget deficit, 2) high oil prices, 3) baby boomer entitlements about to expload. It's an awful lot of American misery coming in the next year (or more if the GOP stays in the white house) to pay for this progress. Personally I think our security would be better enhanced by more airport inspectors for commercial cargo and filling the shortage of Arabic translators. No, it's not a false dichotomy.