Finally, after more than five brutal, misguided years that produced little but death and destruction, chaos and gross corruption. (See Iraq War Results & Statistics at July 9, 2008.)
And the right visionary leader, Barack Obama, is rising at exactly the right moment to lead our still-great nation out of the horribly catastrophic Iraq conflict, and into long-overdue effective engagement of Al Qaeda and the Taliban, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
It's about damn time!
In a masterful, thoughtful in-depth policy speech today on national security and foreign policy, Barack Obama accurately observed:
"George Bush and John McCain don't have a strategy for success in Iraq -- they have a strategy for staying in Iraq. They said we couldn't leave when violence was up, they say we can't leave when violence is down.
"They refuse to press the Iraqis to make tough choices, and they label any timetable to redeploy our troops 'surrender,' even though we would be turning Iraq over to a sovereign Iraqi government -- not to a terrorist enemy. Theirs is an endless focus on tactics inside Iraq, with no consideration of our strategy to face threats beyond Iraq's borders."
And in a New York Times OpEd, My Plan for Iraq, on July 14, 2008, Obama wisely wrote:
"... on my first day in office, I would give the military a new mission: ending this war...
"Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been... "
The Beginning of the End: Iraq Insists on a Timeline
Three momentous events have occurred over the past few weeks that herald the beginning of the end of U.S. military occupation of Iraq:
- 1. In June 2008, top leaders of the two ruling parties rejected the astonishingly grandiose demands of the Bush administration's "Status of Forces" occupation agreement, which would run indefinitely but be cancellable on two years notice.
Bush-McCain mandates included 58 permanent U.S. bases in Iraq; control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet; and blanket immunity from prosecution for all U.S. troops and private military contractors, such as Blackwater. Bush-McCain also demanded that the U.S. would hold the power to define hostile acts as aggression again Iraq.
McClatchy Washington Bureau reports, " 'The points that were put forth by the Americans were more abominable than the occupation,' said Jalal al Din al Saghir, a leading lawmaker from the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq."
- 2. As a result of the stalemate, Iraqi leaders are demanding that the U.S. set a specific timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. Thus far, the U.S. has handed control of 9 of 18 provinces back to Iraq. Once the Iraq government has retaken control of all 18 provinces, Iraqi leaders want all U.S. troops to leave their cities.
"This is what the Iraqi people want, the parliament and other Iraqi leaders want," said a leading Iraqi lawmaker, per Fox News.
- 3. On June 23, 2008, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) debunked Bush administration claims in May 2008 that "that Iraq's efforts on 15 of 18 benchmarks are 'satisfactory' ó almost twice what it determined to be the case a year ago."
To refresh your memory, the 18 benchmarks to gauge "success in Iraq" were drafted by Iraqi leaders, and inserted into Congressional bill H.R. 2206, U.S. Troop Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability Appropriations Act, 2007. For a quick-reading list, see The 18 Benchmarks to Gauge "Success in Iraq".
"Beyond the declines in overall violence in Iraq, several crucial measures the Bush administration uses to demonstrate economic, political and security progress are either incorrect or far more mixed than the administration has acknowledged...
"Over all, the report says, the American plan for a stable Iraq lacks a strategic framework that meshes with the administrationís goals, is falling out of touch with the realities on the ground and contains serious flaws in its operational guidelines."
Bush and McCain Argue to Stay in Iraq
Despite Iraq standing up and taking responsibility for the security of their country, and despite Iraq showing U.S. troops the exit door, George Bush and John McCain, unbelievably, are arguing to stay in Iraq.
In dramatic contrast, Barack Obama declared in his New York Times OpEd:
"The call by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki for a timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq presents an enormous opportunity. We should seize this moment to begin the phased redeployment of combat troops that I have long advocated...
"Unlike Senator McCain, I would make it absolutely clear that we seek no presence in Iraq similar to our permanent bases in South Korea, and would redeploy our troops out of Iraq and focus on the broader security challenges that we face.
"But for far too long, those responsible for the greatest strategic blunder in the recent history of American foreign policy have ignored useful debate in favor of making false charges about flip-flops and surrender.
"Itís not going to work this time. Itís time to end this war."
John McCain's hearty support of Bush policies in Iraq make him unfit to be President of the United States. McCain's judgment on Iraq is impaired, and his ideas on Iraq are stale, wrong and terribly dangerous.
I may be irritated with a handful of Obama's recent votes and words, but, in truth, he will prove to be a strong, principled President in leading us out of the Iraq War and into addressing the real risks of today's global community.
The swearing in of President Barack Obama can't happen soon enough for the security of the United States.
(Photo taken on July 15, 2008: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
New York Times, July 14, 2008: My Plan for Iraq by Barack Obama
McClatchy Washington Bureau, June 9, 2008: U.S. seeking 58 bases in Iraq, Shiite lawmakers say
Fox News, July 8, 2008: Iraq Insists on Withdrawal Timetable for U.S. Troops
New York times, June 24, 2008: Government Study Criticizes Bush Administrationís Measures of Progress in Iraq