I supported the invasion of Iraq. I've urged fellow Democrats, here and in other forums, to focus not on the lies told to get us into the war. We are where we are, I've said more times than I can count, and what's important is getting from here to the best result.
For the last six months I've been basically silent on Iraq because I haven't had any idea what to do next. I know kids who have fought there; I respect immensely those who have answered their nation's call. I can see the wisdom among those who want to get out and those who want to persevere. I lean toward the persevere side, personally, and don't think body count is necessarily a valid justification for pulling out. People die in war, and given what is at stake in the clash between the civilized world and Islamic fundamentalism the casualties to date are small and -- I have no doubt -- will continue to grow for decades to come.
All of that said, the execution of Saddam Hussein convinces me that it's time to get out of Iraq. Maybe it takes six months. Maybe it takes a year. One way or the other, we need to put in motion immediately a plan for withdrawal.
It's not the death of Saddam in particular that has convinced me. The world's a better place without him; I mourn for not a second that he has joined his evil sons in hell. What convinces me that we have to go is this account of Saddam's execution:
There are five men in black face masks who are visible on the gallows platform around Saddam, acting as guards. As they guide him towards the trap door and put the noose over his head, they start chanting religious slogans with the names of Moqtada al Sadr (the head of the Mahdi army, accused of organizing death squads against Sunnis) and Baqr al Sadr (the father-in-law of Moqtada). Saddam, a Sunni, is outraged at this last-minute provocation, and tells them to “go to hell.”
If this account is true, there's nothing more we can accomplish in Iraq. If the executioners from the best-hope-we've-got government of Iraq could not contain themselves at the most serious and public moment in their brief rein, if they could not resist the temptation to chant the Arab-world equivalent of partisan taunts, there is no hope that anything like a stable, pluralistic government will take root in Iraq. If this account is true, the small civil war in Iraq will not be solved until it becomes a big civil war, until so many people die that it becomes obvious to everyone that the pain of living in peace is less than the pain of continuing to fight.
The sectarian nature of Saddam's execution makes it clear that we're not going to be able to end the centuries-long argument, so we might as well get hell out of the way and let it run its course. The middle is not where we want to be.
It's time to bring our kids home. It's time to honor them and apologize to them and help them go on with their lives. As importantly, it's time to remember what kind of country we're supposed to be and work to rebuild ourselves into that kind of a country.