In response to the Washington Post 's Thomas Ricks' story reporting that the guys in the Pentagon are studying three options for Iraq—“go big,” “go long” and “go home”—Congressman and presidential candidate Duncan Hunter voiced a fourth option: pour as many armed Iraqis (who aren't also Sunni insurgents or members of Shi'a death squads) as possible into Baghdad.
It would seem that Hunter is finally coming to grips with something that the president hasn't yet fully embraced—that Americans should no longer be on the tip of the spear in this disastrous occupation. In a weird way, we admire Duncan Hunter's stick-to-itiveness. His revulsion toward quitting is understandable and somewhat admirable. But we respectfully disagree with him. What Americans should be doing is coming home as soon as possible.
Until recently, CityBeat was reluctant to advocate pulling out of Iraq. We were dead set against the invasion because it was unnecessary, provocative in the worst way and based upon lie after lie after lie. It should be obvious to everyone now what was clear to us a long time ago-that Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, et al. invaded Iraq for broad geopolitical purposes (chasing an idealistic dream of creating Western-style democracies in the region, establishing a U.S. military foothold for the protection of Israel and stabilizing control over precious Iraqi oil) and they deceitfully sold the invasion as necessary to save us from imminent nuclear, biological or chemical attack by Saddam Hussein. Members of Congress knew this but considered themselves powerless against the president's then-high approval ratings and the still-fresh memories of Sept. 11, which Bush and Co. deftly exploited by drawing nonexistent links between Iraq and al Qaeda.
But once the bull was in the china shop, the fine dinnerware needed protection. We thought pulling out would render the innocent Iraqi people defenseless amid a civil war that was certain to fill the vacuum created by Saddam's absence. However, American troops have been unable to protect those people, let alone put down the insurgents or control the death squads. So it's time to leave. Call it cutting and running. Call it cutting our losses. Call it whatever you want. But call it now.
The only other option is to “go big.” Going big, advocated by Sen. John McCain, means increasing the troops in Iraq and engaging the various Iraqi factions in an all-out bloodbath. Only one problem: we don't have the troops necessary to win such a war; they simply don't exist. Furthermore, Gen. John Abizaid said recently that he doesn't believe adding more troops would do any good.
McCain has taken up Bush's unsupported claims that leaving Iraq would invite terrorists to attack the United States, embolden Iran and destabilize the region. First of all, Iran doesn't seem to need any help being bold, and America's foreign policy has already done the trick in destabilizing the region. This hornet's nest is sufficiently stirred. But the claim that leaving Iraq would mean fighting the enemy on our own soil is the most laughable of them all. They've backed that up with no supportive statements, no rationale whatsoever. Until they do, all it is is another scare tactic. These emperors are naked. These boys are crying wolf. McCain and Bush have shown no genuine understanding of the Middle East and its people. They and their ilk have exactly zero credibility.
If terrorists are emboldened, it's already happened. We've done quite a job of turning lots and lots of young Middle Eastern Muslims against the Western world-our own intelligence services have determined that. The only hope at this point is that pulling out would have a calming effect.
Bush and McCain still talk of “victory,” but it's unclear whether they even know what “victory” is anymore. We suppose it means a safe, secure and self-governing Iraq. How long would that take? Another five years? Another 15? There's no way the American people will support a prolonged war, and it's unlikely they'll elect another president who advocates for one.
It's obvious that we're awaiting the words of the Iraq Study Group led by Jim Baker and Lee Hamilton, who will supposedly make policy recommendations sometime in December. Fine. But, meanwhile, Americans are dying every day. We should at least pull them off the streets and back into the fortified Green Zone as the president waits for Baker and Hamilton to hand him his way out.
If someone has made the world a more dangerous place, it's George W. Bush. He has sent nearly 2,867 American servicemen and women to the grave, irreparably damaged tens of thousands more, consigned hundreds of thousands of Iraqis to their deaths and knocked countless previously moderate Muslins off the fence.
In our view, there is no other choice but to get out of there, button up homeland security as best we can and—for those of you who do this sort of thing—pray for the innocent people of Iraq.