Let the Iraqis decide our "exit strategy"
As the nation mourned the death of former President Gerald Ford, I reflected on how much he differed from the current White House occupant and on how the situation in Iraq might have been different had Ford been President in 2003. Ford was an intelligent, congenial and truly compassionate man who had been personally exposed to warfare. He was always open to the opinion of others and willing to admit mistakes. In private, he opposed the Iraq invasion, believing that it had no bearing on U.S. national security.
George W. Bush, on the other hand, is a stubborn, arrogant and intellectually incurious man who is in over his head as President. He is responsible for an unnecessary war that has caused the death of more than 3,000 American troops, the maiming of even more soldiers, the waste of at least a trillion dollars, and has provoked an Iraqi civil war in which our armed forces have become policemen and referees.
Moreover, the war has hampered the vital and more legitimate battle against radical Islamic terrorism. Now the President is considering a move to deploy more troops in Iraq, an action that will make our plight worse. Our armed forces face opposition from both Sunni insurgents and Shiite militias. And Iran--a member of President Bush's celebrated "axis of evil"--has become a power in Iraq.
Since the start of the war in Iraq, the Bush Administration has made a big deal of its feat of arranging unprecedented Iraqi elections that led to the creation of a constitution and the selection of a parliament. Now a far more significant election would be to allow the Iraqi people to decide whether they want the U.S. to leave their country or to stick around to help them get out of the mess we have created. In short, let them vote on an "exit strategy" for us.