Other than the cost in American blood, does it really matter whether we start withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq on Oct. 1, as the Democrats called for in the bill Bush vetoed last week, or after the next presidential election? The outcome is likely to be the same - bloody chaos as sectarian factions slaughter each other and settle scores. Is postponing that awful day of reckoning worth the lives and the limbs of hundreds or even thousands more American soldiers?So what should Americans do? Ask the deputy commander of al Qaeda himself. This is from Juan Cole:
The president talks about a "way forward" in Iraq; Democrats are talking about a way out of Iraq, and most Americans are with them. But Bush continues to defy both.
Bush is as stubborn as he is cocky, and he has made it clear that public opinion be damned, he's going to hang tough until Iraq becomes his successor's problem. He must know that the next president will have a popular mandate to end the war, whatever the consequences for Iraq and the region.
There is another reality closing in on the White House, the fact that the U.S. combat role in Iraq cannot be sustained much longer without breaking the back of our severely stressed military. How long can we maintain current troop levels before exhausting our soldiers, many of whom are on their second and third tours of duty in Iraq? Some units are being deployed to Iraq without adequate training or equipment, often with fatal consequences for underprepared troops. The Army has lowered its recruitment standards and increased retention bonuses to meet its manpower needs.
"Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's no. 2 leader complained in a videotape released Saturday about the Democrats' plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq. Al-Zawahiri said he preferred that the US remain so that Muslim guerrillas could bleed the US military. Where have I heard that sort of reasoning before? Aha! It is a fly trap strategy!The current American death rate in Iraq runs roughly 60 per month, and the wounded are eight times the death rate. That's going to be roughly 1200 more dead in 9600 more severely wounded in the next 20 months until a new President is installed. After that it will take roughly another year to get all the American troops out, with casualties continuing.
Al-Zawahiri's opposition to the Democratic plan suggests that it is the right plan."
Iraq presents no danger to the U.S. that continued combat operations can prevent. Sen. Jim Webb has it right.
"We won this war four years ago. The question is when we end the occupation."Gregory Stanford in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel points out
... that the cumulative $564 billion allocated for the war by Sept. 1 could pay for pre-school for every 3- and 4-year-old in the country for the next eight years."And that's only what America is spending on the occupation of Iraq. The cost for Iraqis is a great deal higher in both casualties and treasure. We just don't have those numbers.
America is spending massive amounts of blood and treasure in Iraq for only one reason. That reason is so the angry, emotionally-crippled little boy in the White House doesn't have to admit that he failed when he preemptively invaded Iraq and incompetently handle the occupation. Dante would have to describe an additional, even lower level of Hell just for George W. Bush to occupy. There is no reason other than Bush's sick ego for those casualties or the military expenditures. None!