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In his testimony before Congress Tuesday, General David Patraeus reported exactly as expected, telling Congress that “the Surge is working“. Well, since the point of “the Surge” was to give the Iraqi government breathing room to make the critical political compromises needed to take control of their own security, and since that is not happening, exactly how does one conclude that “the Surge” is working?

We KNEW that this justification for “the Surge” was bogus when the vote before the August recess to bring the troops home was defeated, despite the fact that we knew the Iraqi government would be taking the month of August off as well, ensuring that NO political progress would be made before General Patraeus was to deliver his heralded “report” in September. If the point of “the Surge” was to allow for “political progress” in Iraq, then our troops were in Iraq spinning their wheels for a full month, fighting and dying for no reason other than to wait until everyone got off vacation and went back to work.

By “working”, Gen. Patraeus and the Republicans are looking at only one tiny factor in the consequences of putting more soldiers on the ground in Iraq: increased security (a debatable statistic at best). If security is improving at all, it is because our soldiers are acting as the temporary Iraqi Police Force, patrolling the streets and dissuading violence. Tell me, what are our troops doing now in Iraq that couldn’t/shouldn’t be done by Iraqi police?

We could stay in Iraq for another 227 years and turn it into a second “United States” in the heart of the Middle East, but that’s not our job. Yet, the Republicans would have us do just that. Every time they claim, “We can’t leave now, just look at the progress we’re making!”, that is EXACTLY what they are doing. Every inch of progress gives them justification for staying longer and doing more.

And is so often the case, every setback is ALSO a reason to stay: “We can’t leave the country in this condition! The consequences would be catastrophic!”

We’ve seen this for years: “Increased fighting” translates to the “last throes” of a desperate insurgency on the brink of collapse, while decreased violence is likewise a sign that “victory is soon at hand”.

It’s time to leave Iraq. The conditions on the ground in Iraq will never be “perfect” for us to leave. Whether we leave now of 10 years from now, the effect of our withdrawal will be the same: more violence. And preventing that is not our job! That’s the job of uniformed Iraqi police.

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