57% of Americans believe the Iraq War is going well (don't blame them, blame a media that's forgotten Iraq) and who do they credit for that? Montopoli reports that "one in three say both the Obama and Bush administrations [deserve credit]. Twenty-six percent credit the Bush administration, 20 percent credit the Obama administration, and 19 percent say neither deserves credit." Cynthia English reviews Gallup's latest poll which sureveyed Iraqis and found a five-percent drop in approval of US leadership from 2008 (35%) to 2010 (30%) and an increase in approval of Iraqi leadership during the same time (2008: 28%; 2010: 41%).
Jim Michaels and Mimi Hall (USA Today) report on USA Today's poll which found 60% expressing the belief that the Iraq War was not worth it. The reporters then survey a variety of people about the war and we'll note this section which includes Peace Mom Cindy Sheehan:
"I don't think there's been any measurable thing that we could cite that this occupation of Iraq has made better. We achieved exactly nothing," says Cindy Sheehan, an anti-war activist. Sheehan says the war made things worse for Iraqis and others.
"My work has gone from trying to stop these wars to trying to alert people to the problems of being subjects of a military empire," she says.
Howard Dean, who rode a wave of anti-war sentiment to come close to capturing the 2004 Democratic nomination for president, says no one knows yet whether the war was worth it.
"If Iraq should, against the odds, turn into a liberal democracy, then we should say it was worth it," he says. "The problem is, the odds are against it."
And that is why Howard Dean didn't deserve to be president. If Iraq becomes "a liberal democracy," he insists, then the ILLEGAL war would have been worth it. The rule of law isn't big for Howie. And that's why he's about as pertinent today as Walter Mondale. Fade Away, Howie, fade away. (And possibly "radiate," in a nod to Debbie Harry and Chris Stein's "Fade Away" song for Blondie's Parallel Lines.)
The ends do not justify the means. Howard Dean is George W. Bush's ideological twin. Bush waived through warrant less, illegal spying on American citizens and, presumably, did so because he believed he was making the country safer. He destroyed our Constitutional rights, he might argue (in the old Vietnam analogy of the village) to save our Constitutional rights. He was tasked with upholding the law -- that was what he took an oath to do. But he apparently felt he was above the law and Howard Dean today embarrasses himself by arguing 'the ends justify the means.' Howard Dean was never the big anti-war opponent he was supposed to be. If he's even a footnote in history, it will be about how he was a trial run for the Barack campaign.
Waleed Ibrahim and Fadhel al-Badrani (Reuters) speak with Iraqis to gauge their reactions:
Many Iraqis have mixed feelings about the gradual U.S. withdrawal.
Any initial jubilation over the fall of Saddam Hussein and his suppressive Baath party regime quickly turned to horror when sectarian war ignited and spread.
Tens of thousands were killed and Iraq 7-1/2 years on is a rubble-strewn and dusty wreck, where public electricity only lasts a few hours per day, government bureaucracy is an opaque and corruption-riddled maze and jobs are painfully scarce.
"I can't describe how happy I will be when they leave our country," said Khalida Mohammed, 30, a teacher whose husband was one of several civilians killed in Falluja in 2006 when U.S. soldiers opened fire on cars that had driven close to a convoy.
"Every U.S. soldier in our country is a criminal and a devil. No one wants them," Mohammed said.
The following community sites -- and some community favorites are included as well -- updated last night:
Meanwhile the Iraq War is not over. The editorial board for the Seattle Times notes the drawdown is phase one:
Remember, the operative description is Phase One. The departure of all U.S. military is supposed to come at the end of 2011.
Do not confuse that goal with an end of U.S. presence or involvement in Iraq. Parsing out the future depends on definitions and interpretations.
The exit of designated combat forces still leaves 50,000 American troops in Iraq, with another 79,000 U.S. contractors. Men and women in uniform are essentially replaced by taxpayer-supported mercenaries who attract a lot less public attention.
And we'll close with this from Elise Labot's "U.S. civilians chart unprecedented course in Iraq" (CNN):
For the people of Iraq, the withdrawal of U.S. forces will be largely symbolic. The average Iraqi has not seen U.S. forces since June 2009, when they redeployed to the outskirts of Iraqi cities under the terms of the 2008 security agreement between the United States and Iraq.
Since then, Iraqi forces have been in charge of urban areas: manning most checkpoints, conducting operations against extremists and maintaining law and order.
But for the United States, the transfer from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn is monumental. The handover will put the U.S. State Department in an expanded and indeed unprecedented role, one it is forced to scale back before it even starts due to budget constraints.
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