Saturday, January 31, 2009

Iraq Showing Signs of Stability: Time To Pull Out

Good news from Iraq as elections were held peacefully today. Could this endless war be coming to an end? The New York Times has an article describing the mood.

Any arguments that remain in Washington about the shape and timing of the troop withdrawal this year seem almost moot here, given how much Iraqis want to how they can govern on their own and how much Americans want to hand over responsibility to the Iraqis so they can meet withdrawal deadlines.

(....) The provincial elections will test political stability: whether Iraqis can begin to resolve still festering sectarian and ethnic tensions through the ballot box. The formal process of disengagement started in earnest in November, when the Iraqi Parliament approved a new security agreement with the Americans that sealed the date of departure, by the end of 2011, and almost immediately changed the balance of power.

The outlook of Iraqi citizens has changed as well. They are more confident that their problems are their own, and that the Americans cannot fix them and often have only made matters worse.
I'm skeptical that the Iraqi's aren't merely posturing to save face. Similarly, in South Korea, it's very common to say publically that they want the US troops to leave when they don't truly believe that. They fear North Korea, and it saves them personnel and money to have the US there. If they really wanted them out, they could arrange it.

If the US start to pull out, doubtless there will be an uptick in insurgency action and therefore there will be all kinds of pleas to stay. ( I can hear it now: We can't leave the country in chaos! We started it, we need to end it peacefully and honorably! etc, etc.) The US need to keep this in mind and firmly call the Iraqi bluff. They claim they want the US to leave, so by god take them at their word. For better or for worse for them. If they do pull off complete withdrawal by 2011, I'll be surprised but pleasantly so.

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