Sunday, June 5, 2005
Iraq War: What's the end game?
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER EDITORIAL BOARD
The Nation magazine was almost alone in noting a May 25 vote in the U.S. House of Representatives to require President Bush to develop a plan for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. It garnered yes votes from only 122 Democrats and five Republicans, but it was the first time since the war began that the House had debated the military exit from Iraq. (Reps. Brian Baird, Jay Inslee, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith voted yes.)
According to the magazine, three-fourths of respondents in the latest Gallup poll advocated immediate withdrawal, and a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll indicated that 57 percent of Americans believe the Iraq war was not worth fighting.
While immediate withdrawal or even a hard and fast timetable would risk the security of both Americans and Iraqis, it's certainly time for the Bush administration to be fully forthcoming on its long-term intentions in Iraq.
"Do the members not think that the American people deserve to know what the president plans to do in Iraq?" asked Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif., in offering the May 25 proposal.
The war's mission, as originally sold to the American people, was to preemptively guard America against an attack with weapons of mass destruction perpetrated either by Iraq or by terrorists who got such weapons from Iraq. Without WMDs or the purported terrorist connection, what's the ultimate mission in Iraq? Can it be accomplished? What will it cost and how long will it take?
President Bush owes Americans the answers to these and other questions. If our intent is simply to liberate, not occupy, and our interest is not in that nation's massive oil reserves, why have plans to build four huge military bases and our largest ever embassy there?
Will the war diminish the terrorist threat to America, or will it mean that for every terrorist killed 10 more are born?
What continued sacrifices in domestic spending will Bush extract to underwrite the war?
Unless and until the president offers and clearly articulates the answers to these crucial questions about his intentions in Iraq, the sentiment for all-out withdrawal will only intensify.