Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Leaving Iraq

[posted by Callimachus]

Here's a remarkable op-ed by some of our soldiers working in Iraq. In summing up the experience they hit on something that always was going to be true of this adventure, whether it went perfectly or poorly:

In the end, we need to recognize that our presence may have released Iraqis from the grip of a tyrant, but that it has also robbed them of their self-respect. They will soon realize that the best way to regain dignity is to call us what we are — an army of occupation — and force our withdrawal.

Any occupation will leech a nation's self-respect, unless you're a nation like, say, certain Western European lands under the Nazis in the '40s where people mostly didn't seem to mind. America "occupies" Iraq, as someone wisely put it years ago, "like a cast 'occupies' a broken leg." But a cast is still a severe irritant and you come to hate it and the way it limits you.

We went there, in my original neo-con vision, to be evicted -- to be told to go home. Not to walk away from it when we chose to, but to be told by the Iraqis, "we don't need you here; you should leave." The question was going to be whether they spoke as an elected entity expressing the will of a people seeking peace and prosperity, or whether they spoke as a galvanized and radicalized guerrilla movement.

We don't "need to recognize" that so much as we need to remember it. And stay focused on steering toward the one outcome at the expense of the other.