There’s hope for a united Iraq after all. Hassan Fattah writes in Tuesday’s New York Times:
For the first time, Iraq’s political factions on Monday collectively called for a timetable for withdrawal of foreign forces, in a moment of consensus that comes as the Bush administration battles pressure at home to commit itself to a pullout schedule.
The announcement, made at the conclusion of a reconciliation conference here backed by the Arab League, was a public reaching out by Shiites, who now dominate Iraq’s government, to Sunni Arabs on the eve of parliamentary elections that have been put on shaky ground by weeks of sectarian violence.
About 100 Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders, many of whom will run in the election on Dec. 15, signed a closing memorandum on Monday that “demands a withdrawal of foreign troops on a specified timetable, dependent on an immediate national program for rebuilding the security forces,” the statement said.
I guess they really can work together and agree on something.
The television pundits still talk about staying in Iraq another two or three years, but I think we’ll be out in a matter of months (see “Speaking With One Voice,” below). The only question is, will it be an orderly and honorable withdrawal or something more ignominious? The Bushies and their rightie supporters will be the last people on the planet to realize that a withdrawal will happen, but once they catch on they’ll find some way to argue that withdrawal was the plan all along.
My prediction is that a substatial number of U.S. troops will be out of Iraq before the mid-term elections in November 2006. How much is a ‘substantial number’? We’ll have less that 100,000 troops in Irag a year from now.
Why do I say this? Because the longer the Bush Administrarion “stays the course” the greater will be the discontent among the voting public. And nothing, absolutely nothing, scares a politician more than a defeat at the polls.
So, if the Bush Administrarion does not make significant troop withdrawals, Congress, especially the House, will make their displeasure known in a very public way.
I’m hoping this is “game over.” W finally had enough of being the wartime president. It was too hard a job. I doubt Cheney and Rumsfeld have much real influence any more. W has gone to the military brass and said “Get me out of this as gracefully as possible.” Murtha is here to make sure the generals can go about it unimpeded by any neocon desire for permanent bases in Iraq. His “withdraw sooner than later” plan was a stalking horse to make sure the debate was between “withdraw now” and “withdraw next year,” and not “withdraw next year” and “stay the course until we get our permanent bases.” Mr Kristol’s dream is finally dead. Too late is still better than never.
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