Bring 'Em Home

Anthony Zinni, Marine General, Middle-East expert and hero to some of us who opposed the Iraq War, recently explained why, despite the fact that even though he still feels it was the "wrong war, wrong place, wrong time," our troops must now stay and fight, probably for the next five to ten years. Though the situation may appear untenable to some, he offered, if the January elections are perceived as legitimate and successfully designate a credible group of Iraqis who can then draft a workable Constitution, the possibility exists that in at least the 13 provinces that are relatively stable one might expect the creation of jobs, the involvement of Iraqi businesses in growing the economy and the establishment of a climate that inspires hope in the people.

Noble goals, clearly, though the "ifs," "mights" and "possibilities" are huge and troubling. But my question was, why not bring our troops home? Why not replace Americans who are increasingly despised as occupying forces with peacekeepers provided by NATO or the UN? Why not arrange for an international force made up at least in part of troops from Arab nations to provide the security necessary for this hopeful scenario to play out?

That would solve a number of problems, it seems to me. It would give the lie to the widely held belief that we intend to control Iraq forever, ensuring our access to their oil. (We don't, do we?) It would also calm the fears of those prone to believe that we are in the first stages of a war on Islam. (We're not, are we?) Further, and quite selfishly, it would save the lives of our troops who daily suffer for the arrogance of their nation's leaders. And it just might save a lot of Iraqis as well.

"Who would come?" was Zinni's response, asked in a manner that suggested the answer was obvious. And it apparently is, at least to him. But does that satisfy? Is it an answer we have to settle for as more die every week, with our troops required to destroy another village in order to save it?

Even as Mr. Bush presents Medals of Freedom to three of his chief apologists and implementers of failed strategy, young Americans lose lives, limbs and minds in a criminally transparent attempt to salvage a hideous miscalculation by their Commander in Chief. The Iraqi "insurgency" can no longer be blamed on foreign fighters, criminals and former supporters of Saddam, as those who created this war with threats of "mushroom clouds" now assure us is the case.

If the people of Iraq want democracy they can create it with the help of a security force provided by nations absent the taint of the "Great Satan," a label casually applied to us by our enemies but firmly affixed by the torturers and rapists of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo and their irresponsible superiors who hide smugly behind "quaint" advice.

"Who would come?" Certainly there are still some who believe that while democracy cannot be imposed at the point of a gun it deserves a chance to grow. Others could be offered a role in the lucrative national rebuilding campaign necessitated by the unnecessary war – if, that is, the Halliburtons can be persuaded to ease their monopolistic grip. Still more who, unlike the Bush Administration, believe in international law and its institutions might come to demonstrate their very viability.

Who knows who would come? So far, the arrogance – or ignorance – of the Bush position has opened no opportunity, shown no willingness to make a serious effort to find a replacement force. And, arguably, who wants to pull his fat out of the fire? But despite the unwillingness to recognize the disaster created out of a smug assertion of global dominance, a "see no error, hear no error, speak no error" belief system and a reckless willingness to spend our grandchildren's future on a fool's war, ours is still a democracy.

The 'fat in the fire' is not Bush's; it's ours. It's our kids who are killing and dying on this fool's errand. It's our nation's once-good name that is being sundered along with Iraqi homes and hopes. And it's our duty to turn this rudderless beast around – to do everything in our power to slap our country back to its senses, step back to our proper place in the world, ask for help from our former friends and get our kids the hell out of there.

Bring 'em home.

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