Iraq is 'liberated' enough. Goodbye and good riddance
"I really do believe that we will be greeted as liberators." — Vice President Dick Cheney, "Meet the Press," Sunday, March 16, 2003.
"I was so happy to hear that the Americans are leaving our country. They destroyed our country. They created so much tension among Iraqis." — Firs Fertusi, a former fighter in the now-disbanded Mahdi Army, Los Angeles Times, Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011.
All the costs — the more than 4,000 American casualties, the untold thousands of Iraqis killed, the billions of dollars spent, the ascendancy of Iran — are reflected in the yawning gap between Cheney's unbridled confidence on the eve of war and the grim reality of what happened.
In the end, not even really a "thank you." Rather, it's more, "Don't let the door hit you in the behind on the way out."
So a Democratic president is ending a Republican president's war — a war based on faulty intelligence at best and lies at worst. And as my colleague Paul Thornton pointed out, today's GOP presidential candidates are using that decision to withdraw all U.S. troops by year's end to try to score cheap political points.
How cheap? Consider this. These same candidates have no problem vowing to overturn "Obamacare" if they are elected. So if they really disagree with Obama's decision to withdraw U.S. troops, all they have to do is say that on the stump: "If elected, I'll send U.S. troops back to Iraq."
I wouldn't hold my breath for that one, though.
Yes, Iran's influence in the region is growing. And yes, it's possible that Iraq's government won't be pro-U.S.
It's also likely that Islamist parties in Iraq, as well as elsewhere in the Middle East, will gain from the Arab Spring revolts and the toppling of Libya's Moammar Kadafi. (For a good analysis of that, check out Doyle McManus' column in Sunday’s Times.
But let's face facts. The U.S. is stretched militarily by the war in Afghanistan. Our economy is struggling. If, as some Republicans in Congress insist, even domestic programs such as disaster aid must be paid for by cuts in other programs, how can the GOP possibly call for continuing a costly military presence in a country that doesn't even want us there?
The bottom line: We weren't seen as liberators. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has a functioning government.
Enough is enough. It's time for us to go.
— Paul Whitefield
Photo: A woman walks near the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad on June 20, 2010. Credit: Hadi Mizban / Associated Press