Fallujah, Iraq (AP, April 30) - Led by a former Saddam Hussein general, Iraqi troops replaced U.S. Marines on Friday and raised the Iraqi flag at the entrance to Fallujah under a plan to end the monthlong siege of the city. ...Doesn't that seem an awful lot like "declare victory and get out?"
At the checkpoint at main eastern entrance to the city, the commander of the Iraqi force, Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, shook hands with Col. John Tullin, commander of the 1st Marine Regiment, as Iraqi forces raised their own flag over the checkpoint. ...
"Initially it appears that the transition to the Fallujah Protective Army is working," said Marine. Lt. Col. Brennan Byrne. "It's a delicate situation. The Fallujah Protective Army is the Iraqi solution we've all been looking for in this area."
Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, coalition deputy operations chief, insisted the Marines were not "withdrawing" from Fallujah, one of the most hostile cities in the tense Sunni Triangle, but were simply "repositioning."
Now if they would just do that for the whole country....
Footnote: Actually, I guess this isn't going to be an excerpt-plus-one-line item, since in the course of typing that I realized that I don't want that. I don't want the US to "declare victory and get out." I just want us to get out. I don't want any declarations of victory, I don't want self-congratulations about all the wonderful things we supposedly accomplished, I don't want us patting ourselves on the back, I don't want any purple prose about "freedom" and "rebuilding," I don't want an exit that's used as an ex post facto justification for the entry.
I want us out. Not as victors and frankly not even as losers - but simply as withdrawers, as people who have come to their senses.
If pulling out as supposedly having "accomplished the mission" is the only way an exit will happen, then let it be so for the sake of the lives it will save. But it's not what I want. Because it's not true. Because the war was wrong from the beginning. And because spinning fantasies about what we've "achieved" in Iraq only feeds our own mythos of our sense of national purity, national innocence, the delusion that we only do right.
And maintaining that false notion of perpetual American innocence will be the root of yet another Afghanistan, another Iraq, another - Syria, perhaps?