NYT Editorial, Plus Six Months
Six months ago, last July 8, the New York Times published an editorial entitled "The Road Home" and called for the U.S. to exit from Iraq and abandon a lost cause. The first sentence read:
It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit.
While Mr. Bush scorns deadlines, he kept promising breakthroughs-after elections, after a constitution, after sending in thousands more troops. But those milestones came and went without any progress toward a stable, democratic Iraq or a path for withdrawal. It is frighteningly clear that Mr. Bush's plan is to stay the course as long as he is president and dump the mess on his successor. Whatever his cause was, it is lost.
Additional military forces poured into the Baghdad region have failed to change anything.
Americans must be clear that Iraq, and the region around it, could be even bloodier and more chaotic after Americans leave. There could be reprisals against those who worked with American forces, further ethnic cleansing, even genocide. Potentially destabilizing refugee flows could hit Jordan and Syria. Iran and Turkey could be tempted to make power grabs. Perhaps more important, the invasion has created a new strong from which terrorists activity could proliferate.
The United States has about 160,000 troops and millions of tons of military gear inside Iraq. Getting that force out safely will be a formidable challenge. The main road south to Kuwait is notoriously vulnerable to roadside bomb attacks. Soldiers, weapons and vehicles will need to be deployed to secure bases while airlift and sealift operations are organized. Withdrawal routes will have to be guarded. The exit must be everything the invasion was not: based on reality and backed by adequate resources.
The United States military cannot solve the problem. Congress and the White House must lead an international attempt at a negotiated outcome. To start, Washington must turn to the United Nations, which Mr. Bush spurned and ridiculed as a preface to war.
Once a clock strikes thirteen, it's no longer wise to consider it an accurate source for telling time.