January 03, 2008

That Iraq Thing, Again

I've got some flak for what some people seem to think is my stance on the whole Iraq Thing: that the US should not pull out of Iraq (or at least that's what they seem to get from some of my articles here over the past couple of years, judging by the email).

But that's never been the issue for me: the issue I go on (and on) about is the total self-absorption and naked self-interest of the typical US position on Iraq from nearly all sides of the debate, a position that articulates the case for staying or pulling out (or whatever) almost solely in terms of US interests. The Iraqis and their interests rarely enter into it here except as an afterthought, if at all (John Edwards was able to spend last weekend stumping for the primaries with a message on Iraq that didn't mention the Iraqis at all except as a vaguely-defined bunch of people who'll take over from the US somehow, somewhere, whenever the US feels like it, i.e. as soon as possible).

But treating the Iraqis as anonymous janitors sweeping up after the American party's over, or as a backdrop for US exercises of power, or as ungrateful recipients of US help, is a repellent position: the US and its allies invaded Iraq (on, as it happens, false pretenses), and the US and its allies are largely responsible for the mess that's Iraq now. Iraq isn't about the US, dammit, it's about Iraq and the Iraqis. What do they want or need? That's the determining factor for a pullout or not. And again, I have no position on an immediate withdrawal or not: I just don't know enough about the situation in Iraq and what the Iraqis think to have a strong opinion.

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