What do I think? It's getting on in time for it, perhaps past due. I took part in a sort of protest march dealie in June 2004 myself. My sign read, in part, "500 GIs Dead". 16 months ago, remember.
We need to ask ourselves about the consequences of stopping the war. A very painful question urgently needs to be posed: our lives or theirs? If we save our own from the carnage and chaos that has befallen Iraq, will we consign all of that to the Iraqis? In other words, can we extricate ourselves from this quagmire, an incipient civil war that has cost us over 1,900 dead and nearly $200 billion, without forsaking the Iraqi people and the fledgling democratic system they are attempting to establish?
I have here some practical steps we can try to get our leaders to undertake. First, we should send our troops right along the Syrian border and seal it off. Officers throughout the ranks have frequently noted the futility of insurgent compound raids along the Euphrates corridor, as the Jihadis assimilate right into the countryside or escape through tunnels about as fast as we can kill them.
Moreover, stabilization of Iraq ought to be the first priority, democratization second. It pains me to write such words, but how can there be any hope for a democratic society when its very fabric is being torn to shreds each day? But how we bring order to a country pulled every which way and divided within is a highly difficult matter, one I cannot pretend to have an answer for.
If we are to withdraw our forces, what then? An immediate pullout may be as catastrophic as having invaded in the first place. I think a phased, incremental withdrawal needs to happen as soon as possible. Some analysts even have suggested 'buying off' Sunni insurgents, but that would practically guarantee full-out civil war as Sunnis and Shi'a would probably wipe each other out once we're gone.
If we can consolidate the CIA-trained militias, maybe there is hope. Better yet, start rebuilding the country, so the population can see a reason to band together and create a civil society. Before that can viably begin, we will need better intelligence analysts on the field and less airstrikes.
It's visibly haphazard, how I've proposed to arrange things, but it may work. The sooner the better, so our sons and daughters can return home with honor. Meanwhile, the domestic anti-war movements ought to recognize the complexity that lies behind calls to "leave" Iraq, so the seemingly inevitable nightmare is not realized.