In an interview with former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage, The Australian reports that the US may be asked to leave Iraq.
THE level of violence in some areas of Iraq is worsening dramatically and US forces may soon be asked to leave by the Iraqi Government.
In an exclusive interview with The Australian, former US deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage has given a gloomy assessment of the situation.
"The British used to make a big deal of walking around in their berets in the south," he said. "Now they won't even go to the latrines without their helmets. The south has got much rougher, it's mainly Shia on Shia violence."
Mr Armitage said much of the violence came from differences over how the Islamic religion should be interpreted.
And he said he believed the Iraqis would soon ask the US to leave their country.
The question is, if Iraq asked, would we leave? It's not exactly cut and dried. If we were told by the iraqi government that our help was no longer required, it would come on the heels of a congressional debate where prowar congress critters threw around language like 'cowardice', 'cutting and running', and 'staying the course'. It'd be a slap in the face.
"An early withdrawal would embolden the terrorists — an early withdrawal would embolden Al Qaeda and bin Laden," President Bush told the faithful at a republican fundraiser Monday night, "There will be no early withdrawal so long as we run the Congress and occupy the White House." Would being asked to leave now be seen as an 'early withdrawal'?
The argument could be made either way. The problem is that prowar republicans and the administration have never really defined what a 'win' would be. And that's because they don't know. They were living in a fantasy land where you boot Saddam Hussein out of power and you're done. Outside of that, they seem to have no idea what a 'win' would look like. Is it total peace? Extremely unlikely. Is it some sort of coalition of federal and local officials (probably the scenario with the best chance of success)? Violence and terrorism would continue.
And what about the small city of a military installation we're building and calling an 'embassy'? What if a strong military presence would be unwelcome there?
The war fans are people who remain rabidly opposed to even a tentative target date for a pullout. No one's talking about a hard deadline. As Russ Feingold has pointed out, we set a target date for the iraqi constitution, they missed it, so we extended it. Maybe the problem with the idea of a target date is that flexibility offends the anal retentive tendencies of the right.
If Iraq does ask us to leave, expect a huge debate in congress. We make a big deal about the new iraqi government, but once they assert sovereignty, don't expect the administration and their allies in congress to respect it.