...[o]n Tuesday, without note in the U.S. media, more than half of the members of Iraq's parliament rejected the continuing occupation of their country. 144 lawmakers signed onto a legislative petition calling on the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal, according to Nassar Al-Rubaie, a spokesman for the Al Sadr movement, the nationalist Shia group that sponsored the petition.
It's a hugely significant development. Lawmakers demanding an end to the occupation now have the upper hand in the Iraqi legislature for the first time; previous attempts at a similar resolution fell just short of the 138 votes needed to pass (there are 275 members of the Iraqi parliament, but many have fled the country's civil conflict, and at times it's been difficult to arrive at a quorum).
Reached by phone in Baghdad on Tuesday, Al-Rubaie said that he would present the petition, which is nonbinding, to the speaker of the Iraqi parliament and demand that a binding measure be put to a vote. Under Iraqi law, the speaker must present a resolution that's called for by a majority of lawmakers, but there are significant loopholes and what will happen next is unclear.
Will the US ever leave Iraq?
Scarecrow doesn't think so.
"All this reminds us there is something seriously wrong with the Bush/Cheney logic and their strategic assessment. All that rhetoric about “them” “following us home” — what Richard Clarke calls the White House’s “puppy dog theory” — sounds pretty ludicrous, because it’s exactly backwards. Instead of worrying about al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia following us home, American policy should stop breeding wannabe terrorists here by what we’re doing there. We should worry that this Administration has an incoherent, and dangerously delusional understanding of the threat to America that bears no relationship to reality. And that’s the real danger to the country."
According to Think Progress, Condi thinks the US is staying.
In an interview last night on the Charlie Rose Show, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice pointedly said, “[O]ur friends in the [Middle East] need to know and the Iraqis need to know that we are not looking to leave Iraq.” “Ever?” Rose asked. Rice responded, “We are not going to leave an Iraq that is not capable of defending itself and with a foundation for future reconciliation.”
Rose then asked Rice if she believed she’ll have the support of the American people to continue the war. Rice claimed the American people are looking for “progress.” Rose replied, “But nobody can answer the question: If it doesn’t happen, what?” Avoiding discussion of a Plan B, Rice answered, “Charlie, because as the President said to you, we’re focused on having it happen.”
In the interview, Rose also noted that Rice once worked for President George H.W. Bush, who was “famous for insisting there be an exit strategy. [But] no one seems to know what’s the exit strategy [now],” he said. Rice responded that Iraq is “a long-term proposition.”
Richard Clarke is not optimistic, either.
"For as long as I'm alive, there will be Iraqis who hate us," Clarke told about 300 people gathered in the Gaiser Hall Student Center.
In the "battle of ideas" crucial to U.S. success in the Middle East, "We're not only losing, we've never really started," he said.
In fact, al-Qaida terror cells have multiplied much faster since the 9/11 terror attacks and subsequent American offensive in Afghanistan, Clarke said. The United States let al-Qaida "off the ropes" to invade Iraq, he said.
That was one of many failures Clarke listed as he recounted steps before and after the Iraq invasion that have left many Americans numbed and millions of Muslims seething, he said.
"The question is, how quickly can we undo that mistake?" he asked.