Out in Eighteen Months or One Hundred Years?

If Iraqi and US politicians are to act rationally, they must recognize that a long-term presence by US troops is out of the question, but that US combat forces will be needed in Iraq – albeit with a diminishing role – for the next five years. Only such a presence can consolidate the palpable, but still reversible, gains made over the past year.

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA – Winston Churchill once said that, in wartime, truth was so precious that it needed to be surrounded by a “bodyguard of lies.” In America’s presidential campaign – and, sadly, within Iraq itself nowadays – the Iraq War may not be surrounded by a bodyguard of lies, but it has certainly picked up a vast entourage of partisan half-truths, cynical indifference, and uninformed stubbornness.

America’s Democrats continue to argue for complete withdrawal of United States forces from Iraq within 18 months, despite the fact that no rational observer believes that Iraqi forces will by then be able to secure Iraq’s borders and face down the country’s numerous militias, which remain armed to the teeth. 

Indeed, the Democratic plan (if it can be called one) ignores Iran’s ongoing subversion of Iraq’s state institutions, which will continue unless and until they become strong enough to resist such machinations. Moreover, Barack Obama’s insistence that Iraq has never constituted a central front in the war on terror insults the memory of tens of thousands – perhaps hundreds of thousands – of Iraqi civilians and US troops murdered by al-Qaeda’s suicide bombers since 2003. Indeed, by 2004, the terrorists themselves regarded Iraq as the central front of their campaign. 

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