We have to listen to the Iraqis

I read a couple new articles in the Washington Times on the Iraq withdrawal debate. I am going to respond. I know, this is a pointless exercise, but I have to do something. I can't in good conscience sit back and do nothing.

First, Lt. Gen. John R. Vines, who commands the Multinational Corps Iraq, says an abrupt pullout would be "destabilizing". (see here)

Second, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, urged visiting Iraqi officials yesterday to ask U.S.-led forces to leave their country and pledged Tehran's cooperation in restoring security to Iraq. (see here)

General Vines, are you saying America should keep troops in Iraq even if the elected Iraqi government asks us to get out? Wouldn't this be a little silly? As long as the majority of Iraqis still want our help, well then our help might be useful. But once the majority start saying "Get the hell out," it is going to get real difficult for our troops to influence a positive outcome. We might not like what is going to happen after we withdraw, but once we are asked to leave we are just going to have to admit we have done all we can. Things might not be perfect after our withdrawal. The potential exists for things to get downright messy. But we will have done all we can and we will have to admit we can do no more. Who speaks for the Iraqi people? Why their elected government of course. New elections are scheduled in a few of weeks. The government that takes power will be the first non-transitional government. If that government asks us to withdraw we are going to have to say OK. We might not think they are ready for what is to come but we are going to have to listen to them. Dubyah runs around the world preaching how we're spreading democracy. Well if the Iraqis practice a little democracy and request we leave we're going to have to honor that request, even if we think we know better what is good for them.

To Iraqi President Jalal Talabani I have this to say. You better think long and hard before you take up the Iranian offer of assistance. Do you just want to replace one foreign occupier with another? How are the Sunnis and Kurds within your nation going to view this assistance? Will Iranian assistance do anything more then fan the flames that presently burn? You think American assistance has the Sunnis riled up, just how pleased are they going to be with the Iranians? Perhaps you should give some thought to whether you are ready for us Americans to depart. But if you ask us to withdraw I am going to be amongst those asking our government to get us the heck out of there. But please first give it some thought.

To the Sunnis I offer this. New elections happen in a few weeks. Rather then boycotting the elections you better do everything you can to turn out the vote so that you can get as many of your own voices speaking up in Parliament as you can. Them people are going to be making decisions that are going to impact you. You want Americans out? Well you better be sure America leaves on your terms. Do you want the American troops who leave to be replaced by Iranian troops? You also better do your best to ensure the insurgency dies down. If after America leaves things break down into a civil war you probably are going to see the Iranians getting involved. I don't think you really want to see that. The insurgents might be pleased with it. They do their best to sow chaos. With Iranian involvement they probably will get the chaos they desire, at least for the short term. That is until the heavy heel of the jackboot comes stomping down.


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