Guest blogged by Winter Patriot
It's always an extreme pleasure --- and a severe challenge --- to post an item based on a column by Robert Parry. His excellent piece of August 17, 2005, is called Iraq & the Logic of Withdrawal. It's compelling reading, and it should be mandatory for all who say "we have to stay in Iraq until the Iraqis can provide their own security".
I am not in either camp, as regular readers of this space probably know. And I've been saying at every opportunity. So it's good to see that a very wise observer agrees with me. His take on the issue is a bit different than mine, but we reach the same conclusions. I find that comforting. It's like a math problem --- when you've solved it, you go back and check your work by doing the same problem in a different way. If you get the same answer the second time, you can be fairly sure that your answer is correct.
But there is a case to be made for U.S. withdrawal as the best option for both resolving the conflict and neutralizing the foreign Islamic extremists in Iraq. A corollary of this thinking holds that the continued U.S. military presence does more harm than good.
More harm than good to Iraq? Or to the USA? I would say "both!"
First, a distinction must be made between the Sunni-led insurgency, which is fighting out of a sense of Iraqi nationalism and to protect the Sunni minority's interests in Iraq, and the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist network of Jordanian Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. It is engaged in a jihad to drive Americans and other Westerners out of the Middle East.
While the interests of the Sunni-led insurgency and the Zarqawi-led terrorists may overlap under the present circumstances, that is primarily because an American force of 138,000 troops remains inside Iraq.
And the rest of the column goes like this.