A reader writes:
Ross has drunk too deeply from the well of imperialism. His argument is simply a rehash of the oldest defense of imperial occupation known to mankind: protecting the wild, savage, occupied people from themselves. It was the excuse of Britain in India, of the Boers in South Africa, of the French in Algeria. That he has dressed it up in Colin Powell's "you break it you own it" formulation does not change a thing.
That's not to say I don't understand his point. I do, and it has some feel-good, noble appeal. But let's get to the point.
The "Iraqi people" have been at each other's throats at least since Britain cobbled together the territory nearly 100 years ago. To think that we can outlast these ancient hatreds with our military presence is folly. And it is criminally unfair to American servicemen and women who are forced to endure tour after tour after tour so that people like Ross don't feel bad about Iraqi self-destruction. It is unfair to their parents, their spouses, and their children. Throw continuing fiscal crisis, lack of military readiness for other threats, and endlessly eroding American soft power on the scale, and the balance tips sharply towards GTFO - harm to Iraqis notwithstanding, cold as that may seem.
If Iraqis are intent on killing one another, there is little America can - or necessarily should - do about it. The first step toward getting beyond this mess is to get out of it.