It's time -- long past time -- to
withdraw the troops from Iraq.
The withdrawal should be orderly, not precipitous. Returning
soldiers and marines should be greeted with honor and
appreciation for having served our country -- the overwhelming
majority of them having served it well. The nearly 2,100 who
fell in the line of duty should memorialized in a way that will
assure their sacrifice will never be forgotten.
But, please, Mr. President, no 'mission accomplished'
extravaganza this time. At most, take the review as
commander-in-chief and say thank you.
It has become painfully obvious that the alternative is to
subject the nation to rancorous division and pain more acute
than what a previous generation experienced over Vietnam.
The shameful display in the House of Representatives was just a
foretaste of what would likely come. (CLICK HERE
to read the New York
Times account of what happened.)
Withdrawal is not retreat. It
takes courage and the utmost quality of leadership for one to
acknowledge having been wrong. And, Mr. President, you are wrong
in the policy you have chosen to pursue.
Where you went wrong is something
that history will determine. It serves no purpose to argue now
over what is in the past and cannot be undone. What happens
going forward is what matters.
The debate -- and there certainly
is need for debate -- should be on the proper role for the
United States as the world's only 'superpower'. Should we set
ourself up as world police officer? At what point it is proper
for us to declare that our national interest justifies
intervention in the affairs of other nations? Is it wise -- or,
indeed, possible -- for us to impose our concept of political
democracy on peoples for whom that is alien? Should it be up to
us to determine what governments and rulers are acceptable? Most
important of all: What must the United States do to restore our
credibility and prestige in the international community?
Two years of serious debate would
frame the issues and clearly identify proponents of varying
positions. The American people then would be in a position to
render an informed decision when they choose the next president
and those who will represent them in Congress. Meanwhile, Mr.
President, you can continue to govern without danger of falling
into the same hapless position as Presidents Johnson and Nixon.
You have said that setting a
timetable for withdrawal would serve to embolden radical Iraqi
insurgents and undermine the fledgling government. If it is true
that that government is not yet strong enough to assume the
obligations of sovereignty, it also is true that there are other
nations in the Middle East whose real national interests demand
that they provide peacekeeping support.
In lining up a coalition, we must
acknowledge the preeminence of oil as a determining element in
the region. There is a point at which the interests of those who
have the resource and those who need it converge. Acknowledging
that reality provides the basis for forging a workable scheme.
As we diminish our military
presence in Iraq -- in a matter of weeks or, at most, a few
months, not years -- we should invite and welcome other
Islamic nations to take our place on the ground. Saudi Arabia,
Jordan, Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia are the most likely
respondents. Keeping our existing naval and air power in the
region to back them would be acceptable on an interim basis.
Augmenting the fleet with at least token participation by Great
Britain, France, Italy and other allies would confer an
international character on it. Japan, China and the
oil-dependent nations of Europe should be called upon to help
meet the cost.
If Iraq has the capability ever
to assume full responsibility for its own house, such an
arrangement would assure that the Iraqis demonstrate it in the
shortest possible time. Continued presence of 140,000 foreign
troops, which an increasing number of Iraqi regard as an
occupation force, offers no such incentive.
only slightly less immediately pressing, it would be reasonable
to take a fresh look at U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
There seems little or no possibility at this point that they
will find Usama bin Laden there. There is now universal
recognition that radical terrorism is a worldwide threat. Much
would be gained by the United States ending what has become and
increasingly quixotic quest in favor of participating in a truly
international effort to combat it. The United Nations offers a
suitable vehicle for such a venture.
survey by the Pew Research Center in association with the
Council on Foreign Relations has found a growing amount of
isolationist through in America.
to access the report
and read it on-line.
America has traveled thousands of miles from Atlantic City to
fine her new home -- in Vegas. Goodbye, Boardwalk; hello, Strip.
Earth's warming climate is estimated to contribute to more than
150,000 deaths and 5 million illnesses each year, according to
the World Health Organization, a toll that could double by 2030.