October 2006 has been one of the bloodiest months for US casualties since February 2005 with some 104 soldiers killed. The in-fighting between Shia militias and the continuing Sunni insurgency is reaching a peak of furious sectarian activity and the figures of total Iraqi civilian deaths present us with shocking reading, even if taken at their most conservative estimate.
In the United States the mid-term elections draw ever closer and the situation in Iraq is being used, rather disgustingly, as a stick by which to beat the Democrats can beat the GOP; who in turn are desperately distancing themselves from Bush and his policies. On face value, with only 19% of Americans thinking that America is winning in Iraq, this may seem a wise tactic but it’s not. All well and good to punish Bush and his party for their mistakes, that is the right of the electorate but it is not fair to punish the people of Iraq.
It was not that long ago ‘Cut and Run’ was used by Republicans as a pejorative term for the policy-paralyzed and distressingly ineffectual Democrats, who could not develop a coherent long term stance on what to do in and with Iraq if you paid them. But now it seems that ‘Cut and Run’ has gained an air of legitimacy on both sides and is being bandied around as if it is in any way a reasonable course of action. It is not.
Let me make this clear: the invasion of Iraq was a terrible mistake, a mistake built on the lie of WMD, on the lie of Saddam as a threat, on the lie of terrorist connections between Iraq and 9/11 and on the selfish desire to gain a oil-rich foothold in the Middle East in some pseudo-imperial desire to spread democracy through the region. But now we are there we have a responsibility to see out our mistake and do everything within our power, no matter what the cost, to put Iraq together; to exhaust every single possible avenue to make Iraq a stable nation once again.
Those that talk of withdrawal to save the lives of American and British soldiers are not only betraying those that have already given their lives to the cause but betraying the Iraqi people, in short, it would be a crime of the highest order. Instead, the troops have to stay, stronger action needs to be taken against the persistent insurgent groups and dialogue needs to be reached with the Iraqi people on how best to take things forward without the total dismantling of the Iraqi state.
We owe that to the Iraqi people and all those that have died in that country.