Yankee Go Home

1 comment July 12th, 2007at 11:18am Posted by Eli

I’m pretty sure Kristof started out in the we-can-do-some-good-in-Iraq camp, but he’s well and truly fed up now:

As we debate what to do in Iraq, here are two facts to bear in mind:

First, a poll this spring of Iraqis — who know their country much better than we do — shows that only 21 percent think that the U.S. troop presence improves security in Iraq, while 69 percent think it is making security worse.

Second, the average cost of posting a single U.S. soldier in Iraq has risen to $390,000 per year, according to a new study by the Congressional Research Service. This fiscal year alone, Iraq will cost us $135 billion, which amounts to a bit more than a quarter-million dollars per minute.

We simply can’t want to be in Iraq more than the Iraqis want us to be there. That poll of Iraqis, conducted by the BBC and other news organizations, found that only 22 percent of Iraqis support the presence of coalition troops in Iraq, down from 32 percent in 2005.

If Iraqis were pleading with us to stay and quell the violence, maybe we would have a moral responsibility to stay. But when Iraqis are begging us to leave, and saying that we are making things worse, then it’s remarkably presumptuous to overrule their wishes and stay indefinitely because, as President Bush termed it in his speech on Tuesday, “it is necessary work.”


Just because President Bush says something doesn’t mean it is fatuous. [I would say the exact opposite, but hey, he’s rolling.] It’s true, for example, that our withdrawal may lead to worse horrors in Iraq. But don’t ignore the alternative possibility, believed overwhelmingly by Iraqis themselves, that our departure will make things better.


It’s nice that Mr. Bush is still confident about Iraq, telling us on Tuesday: “I strongly believe that we will prevail.”

Apparently, we’re doing almost as well today as we were in October 2003 when he blamed journalists for filtering out the good news and declared: “We’re making really good progress.”

Then in September 2004, Mr. Bush assured us that Iraq was “making steady progress.” In April 2005: “We’re making good progress in Iraq.” In October 2005: “Iraq has made incredible political progress.” In November 2005: “Iraqis are making inspiring progress.”

Do we really want to continue making this kind of inspiring progress for the next 10 years?

Kristof is apparently not familiar with the Republican dialect. In Republicanese, “reform” means “destroy,” and “progress” means “death spiral.”

I’m pretty sure I made the exact same argument about our moral obligation to stay in Iraq being severely diminished by the fact that no-one there is begging us to stay a few weeks or months ago, I just, uh, don’t remember where.

I used to subscribe to the argument that having gone in and utterly destroyed Iraq, that we incurred an obligation to stay until we fixed it. But that argument cannot be sustained if you believe that we are doing more harm than good, that our presence will never lead to a successful physical, economic, or political reconstruction.

Perhaps a different administration could do better, one that actually cares about the Iraqi people more than they care about oil and macho posturing, and one that would actually put competent people in charge of every element of occupation and reconstruction. But I doubt it – the Bush administration has done everything possible to ensure that the Iraqis will hate us until the end of time, and I don’t think any administration will be able to overcome that. The only action that might earn their forgiveness would be to turn Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and all the architects of torture over to the Iraqis to administer justice as they see fit, and that will obviously never happen. (Whether or not it should happen is another question – I could go either way on that one…)

Entry Filed under: Iraq,Media,War

1 Comment

  • 1. The Heretik : Round Up&hellip  |  July 13th, 2007 at 3:20 pm

    […] bread. Deliver us from evil. Lead us not into temptation. And save us from those who would save us. […]

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