Four years ago today, the United States began its shock-and-awe invasion of Iraq. It’s the anniversary few want to remember; and yet, for all the disillusionment in this country, getting out of Iraq doesn’t exactly seem to be on the agenda either. Not really. Here’s a little tip, when you want to assess the “withdrawal” proposals now being offered by members of Congress. If what’s being called for is a withdrawal of American “combat troops” or brigades, or forces, then watch out. “Combat troops” turns out to be a technical term, covering less than half of the American military personnel actually in Iraq.
Here, on the other hand, is a simple argument for withdrawal from Iraq — and not just of those “combat troops” either. The military newspaper Stars and Stripes reports that, in January 2007, attacks on American troops surged to 180 a day, the highest rate since Baghdad fell in 2003, and double the previous year’s numbers. Let’s take that as our baseline figure.
Now, get out your calculator: There are 288 days left in 2007. Multiply those by 180 attacks a day — remembering that the insurgents in Iraq are growing increasingly skilled and using ever more sophisticated weaponry — and you get 51,840 more attacks on American troops this year. Add in another 65,700 for next year–remembering that if, for instance, Shiite militias get more involved in fighting American troops at some point, the figures could go far higher–and you know at least one grim thing likely to be in store for Americans if a withdrawal doesn’t happen. And a decision to withdraw only American “combat troops,” under such circumstances, is likely to be a less than halfway step to greater, not lesser, catastrophe.
Those of us who remember the Vietnam era also recall living through years of similar non-withdrawal withdrawal proposals. It won’t turn out better this time around.