Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Saving Face

Unsurprisingly, as Kevin Drum points out, the Iraqi people want us to leave and leave now and it is not by some slim majority. It is significant. (74% of Shiites and 91% of Sunnis want us to leave within a year (the number is 80% for Shiites in Baghdad). It is clear that they believe our presence destabilizes Iraq and fails to protect them. They support attacks against American troops! Why in the hell are we still there?

That is the million dollar question after all. What is the overriding reason we should still be there or there at all? Can someone tell us what is so important to our national interest that we continue to occupy a country that not only hates us but murders our soldiers daily?

The reason no one can give you an answer other than some vague mumble about the central front on terror or fighting them over there so as not to fight them here is because there is none. It is quite simple. There is no good reason for us to be in Iraq…just as there was no good reason for us to go there in the first place. The 411, as they say, is that we are staying in Iraq because the current Administration is afraid admit that they gravely misunderstood the ramifications of attacking Iraq and have subsequently blundered repeatedly. They stubbornly refuse to admit that we have lost all control of events in Iraq and are just dodging bullets. We are staying in Iraq in a useless attempt to save our national self-esteem.

While we have soldiers in Iraq, there's always the chance, no matter how remote or pie in the sky that the debacle will calm down and miracle of miracles we will be able to declare “Mission Accomplished” and back out without too great a loss of reputation. Leaving now, on the other hand, would be admitting defeat and all the loss of face that comes with it. So here we are in a position where no one in a decision making position is going to call for such an admission. You can’t expect the Bush folks to savage their so-called legacy by such honesty nor can you expect the generals protecting their high positions to engrave such humiliation on the monument of American history. If I were in their shoes I too would hesitate to speak the unspeakable and admit our ignoble defeat. What it means, however, is that we’re not only asking men and women to die for a mistake, we're asking them to die for our pride.

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