WHAT DO IRAQIS WANT FROM US?

A really excellent reported piece in the Times today taps into a broad swathe of Iraqi public opinion on withdrawal. Most seem to support it with some reservations about the timing and a few worry that the Iraqi Army will be unable to provide security without the backing of American troops. But presumably the first troop withdrawals won't begin for another six months -- a Friedman unit! -- giving the Iraqi troops more time to solidify their training and clear areas of insurgents. It's also clear that Iraq's governing officials are starting to assert themselves and reject American attempts to impose a "colonial relationship" on the country.

Some Iraqi citizens quoted in the piece echo a personal worry of mine that I suspect John McCain shares: that American troops' departure will lead to chaos in the country and a failure to live up to our moral, you-break-it-you-bought-it obligation to correct our mistakes there. But the U.S. has reached the limit of what it can achieve militarily in Iraq. Then there's this heart-rending observation: "Many Iraqis hate American forces because soldiers have killed their relatives and friends, and they say they want the troops out."

-- Tim Fernholz

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