May/June 2006
Foreign Policy

Cut and Run? You Bet

Why America must get out of Iraq now

by Lt. Gen. William E. Odom

Withdraw immediately or stay the present course? That is the key question about the war in Iraq today. American public opinion is now decidedly against the war. From liberal New England, where citizens pass town-hall resolutions calling for withdrawal, to the conservative South and West, where more than half of "red state" citizens oppose the war, Americans want out. That sentiment is understandable.

The prewar dream of a liberal Iraqi democracy friendly to the United States is no longer credible. No Iraqi leader with enough power and legitimacy to control the country will be pro-American. Still, U.S. President George W. Bush says the United States must stay the course. Why? Let's consider his administration's most popular arguments for not leaving Iraq.

If we leave, there will be a civil war. In reality, a civil war in Iraq began just weeks after U.S. forces toppled Saddam. . . .

Withdrawal will encourage the terrorists. True, but . . .

Before U.S. forces stand down, Iraqi security forces must stand up. The problem in Iraq is not military competency . . .

Setting a withdrawal deadline will damage the morale of U.S. troops. . . .

Withdrawal would undermine U.S. credibility in the world. . . .


[Lt. Gen. William E. Odom (Ret.) is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and professor at Yale University. He was director of the National Security Agency from 1985 to 1988.]

[In the end, the case for changing the secretary of defense seems to me to be overwhelming.--Richard Holbrooke, "Behind the Military Revolt," Washington Post, April 16, 2006]

[But the vast base being built up at Balad is also hard evidence that, despite all the political debate in Washington about a quick U.S. pullout, the Pentagon is planning to stay in Iraq for a long time - at least a decade or so, according to military strategists. . . .

There is ample evidence elsewhere of America's long-term plans. The new $592 million U.S. Embassy being built at the heart of Baghdad's "international zone" is "massive ... the largest embassy to date, . . .

the U.S. government has never drawn up plans for "permanent" military bases, even when it ended up staying for half a century.--"Michael Hirsh, "Stuck in the Hot Zone," Newsweek, May 1, 2006]

[TONY BLAIR has instructed his aides to draw up plans for British troops to be withdrawn from Iraq and Northern Ireland by the autumn of next year.--David Cracknell and Sarah Baxter, "'Peacemaker' Blair Wants Troops Out of Iraq," Sunday Times, May 21, 2006]

[Iraq will allow the current United Nations mandate to remain in effect beyond a deadline next Thursday for a review of Security Council Resolution 1637, which provides legal authority for the American-led military coalition to continue its combat operations.--Tom Shanker, "Iraq Decides It Still Needs U.S.-Led Military Presence," New York Times, June 11, 2006]

Francis Harris, "US 'planning to keep 50,000 troops in Iraq for many years'," Telegraph, June 12, 2006

["I supported him in this," President Jalal Talabani said . . . The vice president also complained about a number of covert prisons run by the Shiite-led Interior Ministry "where many violations are committed," according to the statement from the president's office.--"Top Sunni asked Bush for pullout timeline ," Associated Press, June 15, 2006]

Robin Toner, "House Rejects Timetable for Withdrawal From Iraq," New York Times, June 17, 2006

[The cable, signed by the US ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad and sent to the State Department in Washington on 6 June, is wholly at odds with the optimistic account of developments given by President George Bush and Tony Blair in their recent visits to Iraq.--Patrick Cockburn, "Leaked memo reveals plight of Iraqis," Independent, June 20, 2006]

William Blum, "Why Bush's Iraq is Worse Than Saddam's,", June 22, 2006

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, "Iraq is a full-scale military balls-up. Our best move now is to cut and run," Guardian, June 23, 2006

[A timetable for withdrawal of occupation troops from Iraq. Amnesty for all insurgents who attacked U.S. and Iraqi military targets. Release of all security detainees from U.S. and Iraqi prisons. Compensation for victims of coalition military operations.--Rod Nordland, "Maliki's Master Plan,", June 24, 2006]

Aaron Glantz, "Iraqis Call for Timetable, America Cracks Down,", July 13, 2006

[ . . . why donÕt you object to AmericaÕs rule over Iraq before objecting to SyriaÕs interference in order to protect its security?--"Mashhadani on Americastan in Iraq," Al Hayat, August 8, 2006]

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