Out of Iraq

There are now discussions about whether any US troops should remain beyond the end of the year. I say NO WAY.

The poor Libyans are required (the price of getting China and Russia to abstain) to fight for their freedom with inferior equipment to the enemy, and "just" air support. Compare that to what the Iraqis have and it's a complete joke. The ONLY thing that Iraq NEEDS is aircraft to put down a coup attempt by Sadr loyalists etc. And such air support only needs to come out very rarely, probably never, and can come from Kuwait.

It is far more important that the US sticks by the only date for full withdrawal that it ever agreed to. It will make the political argument easier if the US never did anything wrong. Yes, I know a mutually-agreed extension isn't technically wrong, but so many people think that the Iraqi government are puppets and the US has its troops there still to control them, that it's better to just yank that rug from underneath them, given that it doesn't matter anyway - they are NOT needed.

In the worst case scenario that there is a military coup or something that the US won't put down with troops out of Iraq, but would have if they had remained there, well, that's just bad luck. Iraq isn't nearly as important in 2011 as it was in 2003. We already know that Arab Muslims can run a democracy. We know exactly what that democracy looks like. We know what the people innately want. We know where the divisions are. And guess what? We've got new Arab Muslim democracies waiting in the wings (ie Tunisia and Libya) which are likely to be more successful than Iraq's, because they don't have the ethnic and religious divisions. Iraq was far more interesting in 2003 than the other 2, as we could see how they would politically resolve the religious differences (similar religious differences caused 9/11). We now know the answer - they didn't resolve them. The religious bigotry is still there, and the potential for further anti-non-Muslim violence exists while ever this religious bigotry remains. Expunging that requires more time and/or more direct culture changing.

I know that soldiers don't want to feel they died for nothing. They didn't. The Middle East needed to be shaken up after 9/11, and by joves, it has been shaken up. With 300+ political parties in Iraq alone, and emerging democracies elsewhere, and inherent sectarian tensions laid bare for scrutiny, it has been shaken up. Progress in the rest of the Middle East may feed back into Iraq too. ie if Tunisia has a working democracy, then if we end up with an Al Sadr dictatorship, the Iraqis will have something better to aspire to, and a quick war can be done at any time to restore Iraq's democracy. This time the old security forces should not be disbanded. And this time the Iraqis will hopefully not be voting for religious parties. Maybe we can even force the Iraqis to abandon the religious bigotry in their constitution that says that Iraq is a member of the Muslim world, and drop the racist reference to being a member of the Arab world too. I see that we have a lot more room for manouvre now.

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