Home > politics > Murtha Wants to Withdraw, but What Do the Iraqis Want?

Murtha Wants to Withdraw, but What Do the Iraqis Want?

Monday, November 21, 2005, 22:22 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

U.S. Rep. John Murtha, an opponent of U.S. involvement in Iraq for at least three years (recent media suggestions notwithstanding), thinks the Bush Administration ought to have a plan for pulling forces out of Iraq. His "plan" is based not on achievement of certain goals, but on an arbitrary timetable. Never before have we set ourselves a deadline; the plan in World War II, for example, was to keep fighting until the Axis powers were defeated, however long that took. For some reason, Rep. Murtha thinks that time-tested approach is no longer relevant.

Frankly, I don’t care what Rep. Murtha wants, and I don’t give his opinion any more credence simply because he is a Vietnam veteran. Why should his wishes be given more weight than, say, those military personnel now in Iraq? They shouldn’t, of course. But even more important is the opinion of the Iraqi people themselves—not the domestic terrorists and foreign insurgents now killing fellow Muslims, but rather the civilized people working together to build a new government.

So when those people say they want to start planning for the withdrawal of foreign forces, it’s a valid subject for discussion. That may have happened today when "Iraqi leaders" agreed on a joint statement calling for a timetable for withdrawal, release of prisoners detained without charge, and a program for rebuilding the country’s armed forces.

At the end of the three-day meeting sponsored by the Cairo-based Arab League, the Iraqi leaders called for the withdrawal of US and British forces from Iraq by immediately setting a timetable for gradually rebuilding Iraq’s armed forces.

Now this report comes from Al-Jazeera, and the article is short on specific references to the Iraqi interim government, so it may be appropriate to take this "statement" with a grain of salt. But even if it is legitimate, it’s a far cry from the proposals of Murtha, Kennedy, et al. because it ties withdrawal of foreign forces to the rebuilding of Iraq’s own military. The timetable is not for withdrawal directly, but rather for getting its own armed forces up to the task of taking over the role now held primarily by the Americans and the United Kingdom. It is goal-directed, not calendar-directed. Most importantly, it appears to be Iraqi-directed.

Rest assured that there will be many in Congress and on the far left who will continue to demand immediate disengagement from Iraq regardless of what the Iraqi government and people want. It would behoove them to understand that they know nothing of the challenges Iraqis face as they proceed with efforts at self-governance. And despite the racist beliefs of the far left, the brown-skinned peoples of the Middle East are more than capable of governing themselves free from the iron-fisted control of dictators. If they aren’t clamoring for immediate U.S. withdrawal, it’s probably because they don’t believe that’s in the best interest of their national security and stability. Only the most arrogant amongst us would believe that America’s professional protesters know better.

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