Juan Cole has an excellent post
on why the US needs to get out of Iraq now. I know that has been obvious to most of us for a while, since before the war started in fact, but his piece is a really good, detailed review of the reasons. It is also a evolution in Cole's own position. He was until recently arguing that US troops needed to stay in to try to fix what we had broken and to stabilize Iraq, a position for which he was widely and rightly criticized on the left. He is right that we are responsible not only for the war but for the consequences for the Iraqi people when we withdraw. Until now he argued that we could and were morally obligated to do something to ameliorate the death, destruction, torture and chaos we have brought about. But he finally seems to have understood that we need to deal with the leadership we have and not the leadership we would like to have.
Bush & co. are incapable of doing anything constructive in Iraq, because they have no interest in helping Iraq or taking the slightest bit of responsibility for the horrors we have visited upon them. George Bush simply doesn't care about the Iraqi people. What our resources might do to help in the presence of good intentions is totally irrelevant since such intentions do not and will not exist. We are utterly responsible, but there is no way to atone.
Even if the Democrats were in power, there is no genuine concern for the welfare of the Iraqi people or democracy or the other idealist rhetoric that neocons like Hitchens are so pompously bandying about. Because that's all it is, just rhetoric. Case in point: an interview
with the Democratic governor of New Mexico, former UN Ambassador under Clinton and 2008 presidential hopeful Bill Richardson on Democracy Now
earlier this week. Asked about the sanctions against Iraq under the Clinton administration, he said that despite the harm they did, they were worth the cost. Even when Amy Goodman pointed out that the cost was a half million children
dead. He said yes, it was worth it.*
AMY GOODMAN: But the U.N. sanctions, for example, the sanctions led to the deaths of more than a half a million children, not to mention more than a million Iraqis.
GOVERNOR RICHARDSON: Well, I stand behind the sanctions. I believe that they successfully contained Saddam Hussein. I believe that the sanctions were an instrument of our policy.
What if it were a half million American children? Children from New Mexico? Still worth it? Given this cavalier attitude toward Iraqi lives, it is hardly surprising that neither he nor any prominent Democrat supports immediate withdrawal.
*While Richardson and Madeline Albright were quite sanguine about the consequences of the sanctions they supported, Bill Clinton himself has been a bit more evasive