Michael: Senator Feingold Shows Leadership on IraqSenator Russ Feingold (D-WI) called for a target date for pulling out of Iraq in 2006 . The Senator thereby became one of the few Democrats providing genuine leadership on resolving the slow, superating wound that Iraq has become.
The hackeneyed rationale of the Administration for staying in Iraq, that a withdrawal date signals to the insurgency that they can outlast us, is countered by Feingold's eminent good sense that a clear timeframe instead undercuts the insurgency by denying them use of the open-ended American occupation as a recruiting tool both inside and outside Iraq.
Feingold will be releasing more details of his proposal in town hall meetings in Wisconsin. Finally, reasoned voices of opposition to this disastrous occupation being heard in this country.
There are two things that the Right just doesn't get about this war.
First, those who oppose this war support our troops in the ways that matter; not by jingoism and unquestioning support for our leaders, but by fulfilling their duties as citizens - questioning, demanding answers and accountability, and insisting that our military personnel and their families be treated with honor and fairness. We do not seek to undermine the military or national defense, on the contrary, we are afraid that is what Bush and the Neo-Cons are doing with thier reckless policies.
Second, the Right seems to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of the enemy. The notion that we can prevail militarily in Iraq reveals their general, though not universal, ignorance. Armed resistance to the American occupation is coming largely from Sunni militias and Ba'athists. This resistance is self-replenishing. We could be in Iraq for a generation or more without overcoming this faction. The only solution is political.
International terrorists are certainly present, but they are almost entirely drawn by the targets of opportunity a foreign occupying army presents. If we bugged out, so too would most of the international terrorists. There are Sunnis trying to spark a sectarian war by targeting Shiite communities with terrorist attacks. These terrorists are highly unlikely to be affected in any way by the prescence or abscence of American troops. We simply have not made even a dent in these Iraqi-Iraqi terrorist attacks. Nor have we the intelligence resources or will to do so.
Finally, there are is the military potential in Iraq that we are not currently fighting: the Kurdish militias (Peshmergas) and the Shiite militias (currently being trained and armed by Iran). The only way these forces will become beligerent is if we try to destroy them (like the Sadrite militias) or if we try to force a political settlement on them which they cannot live with (such as taking away hard-won Kurdish federated rights). In any case, we don't have nearly as much pull with these factions as our leaders like to think. Iraq will look to its own interests, as will the major factions in Iraq, regardless of the American occupation. Already the Shiites are looking beyond the American occupation and aligning with what they rationally view as a more reliable and comfortable long-term ally: Iran.
It is unclear what the American military occupation is intended to accomplish at this point. If, as it seems, it is just to hunker down to await political accomodation, our soldiers are in harms way for no real reason. If it is to prevent the natural development of the Iraqi political process to favor American interests, or to prevent an alignment with Iran, we are closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Democracy in a unified Iraq will always favor Iranian interests and tend to favor an Islamic state. This is an easily determined fact, and one not amenable to alteration by force, even by the 'world's only remaining super-power'.
Feingold has the right idea. We need to leave Iraq. Every day's delay only leaves more American blood on Iraqi soil to no avail.