Iraq = Germany

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So says Max Boot:

I could just imagine an Andrew Sullivan of the 1940’s writing something similar about Harry Truman’s crazy idea to station troops in Germany and Japan without an exit strategy: “In fifty years’ time, the West Germans will not be able to defend themselves against the Soviet Union? Or East Germany? Please.” As it happens, the West Germans wouldn’t have been able to defend themselves against a broad array of enemies without a long-term American troop presence. That presence has served other important goals too, namely reassuring Germany’s neighbors that it would never threaten the peace of Europe again and fostering Germany’s internal democratic development. But just because we’ve had troops in Germany and Japan for 60 years–and in South Korea for more than 50 years–doesn’t mean we’re occupying those countries. We are there are the request of democratically elected governments.

The same is true, whether Klein or Sullivan concede it or not, in the case of Iraq.

The occupation of Iraq is over. Iraq has a sovereign government that, if it so desires, could tell us to get lost, and we would do it. At the moment the Iraqi government is giving us a hard time over the terms of future American commitment, but there is no denying that the government of Iraq does want and need an American troop commitment for the foreseeable future. Granted, the enemies that Iraq faces aren’t as formidable as the enemies that West Germany faced for so many decades, but Al Qaeda, Iran, and its various proxies are dangerous enough, and Iraq isn’t nearly as strong as West Germany was. In fact, Iraq is just now starting to recover from the early stages of a civil war–a civil war that would still be consuming countless lives if Sullivan and Klein had had their way and the surge (and related strategy changes) had never occurred.

Does Boot really believe that Islam's deep revulsion against foreign rule as a religious outrage, in a time of resurgent Islamic fundamentalism, can be equated with what was left of post-Nazi German nationalism? Is he really saying that Iran has the same relationship to Iraq that the post-war victorious Soviet Union had to devastated West Germany? And does he really believe that Maliki's assent to continued occupation is freely given, when Maliki's ascent is entirely a function of that occupation, and when the Americans are helping him temporarily dispatch his Shiite rivals? The Middle East is not Europe, guys. Maybe the Israelis could set you straight on that.

Look: arguments about motives will never end. I can't speak for Joe, but I obviously feel somewhat shafted by some neocon arguments before the war - arguments that I took in good faith and now suspect were made in bad. Nonetheless, we now have a choice. Having removed Saddam, and set up a rough-and-ready form of government in Iraq, is it our goal now to leave as soon as we responsibly can or is it to stay indefinitely in a beachhead of American power in the center of the Middle East?

I vote for the former. Max Boot wants the latter. Obama and McCain divide on exactly these lines. Kinda convenient we have an election coming, isn't it?

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