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The Moral Bankruptcy of Threatening Iraq

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One theme in the Iraq Study Group report seems to offer hope for anti-war forces that want to see a rapid end to the occupation:

If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government.

In different guises, this is a proposition that many Democrats have supported.

This is a morally bankrupt formulation, and it should be rejected by those working for rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The logic of the proposition from the Iraq Study Group is that the United States has, metaphorically, come to put out the fire in Iraq's house. If we're risking our lives, while the Iraqis are standing on the sidelines arguing among themselves (or worse, throwing rocks at us while we try to douse the fire), then we reasonably can decide to protect ourselves and sacrifice the house.

The problem with this formulation is that it ignores that we lit the fire in the first place.

Also, and even more crucially, it fails to acknowledge that by our presence and actions we are fueling the fire, rather than putting it out.

We are not Good Samaritans who happened on the scene.

We are arsonists.

We launched a criminal war that has, predictably, spiraled out of control and killed not just thousands of Americans, but hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

Given all that we have done, our greatest obligation is to stop making things worse. That's why the United States must withdraw.