Never trust a Republican to pull out or abort. Last month, U.S. military officials told us we could expect a withdrawal of 20,000 to 30,000 of the 138,000 American troops by next spring if Iraq managed to draft its new constitution on time and hold elections. We are pinning our departure on the new government in Iraq like a corsage on a date at the prom, whispering sweet nothings and promises of pulling out a little bit like the soon-forgotten empty talk at the back of a rented limo. At the stroke of midnight last Monday, any constitution deals fell apart, with religion and the role of women two of the main obstacles. The Iraqis have agreed to disagree for another week, moving the new deadline to August 22. Bush, vacationing on his ranch this month within shouting range of wannabe houseguest Cindy Sheehan, has said, Pulling the troops out would send a terrible signal to the enemy. We will not abort our mission. It appears that whether we pull out or not, were still fucked. I sympathize with Mrs. Sheehan. She feels strongly about her position. And she has every right in the world to say what she believes. This is America. She has a right to her position. And Ive thought long and hard about her position. Ive heard her position from others, which is, Get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country and the ability to lay the foundations for peace in the long run if we were to do so.
George Bush, August 11
I do believe that if the political process continues to go positively and if the development of the security forces continues to go as it is going, I do believe well be able to take some very substantial reductions after these elections in the spring and summer of next year.
U.S. General George Casey, July 27
We have a lot at stake here. A lot of American blood and American treasure has been spent here. Our goal is to have a successful Iraq, an Iraq in which the human rights of all Iraqis, without discrimination with regard to gender or color, or religion, is practiced. U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, August 14
The main question is not the length of the extension period, but rather whether there is political will, resolve and flexibility to make hard decisions. In the absence of good intentions, a week or longer would not be enough.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
Ali Dabbagh, a Shiite Muslim member of the 71-member constitution-writing commission, August 16
To start thinking about and talking about what its really going to be like in Iraq after elections, Ive been saying to folks: Youre still going to have an insurgency, youre still going to have a dilapidated infrastructure, youre still going to have decades of developmental problems both on the economic and the political side.
Unnamed military official in the Washington Post, August 11
Image ControlBy Mr. Fish