U.S. should expect more from Baghdad

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Former Secretary of State James A. Baker had a reputation for preferring diplomacy over force.

During the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. was criticized in some circles for not being more aggressive.

“I used to get asked why I didn’t want to push on to Baghdad,” Baker says. “I don’t get asked that question much anymore.”

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In other words, sectarian violence and the threat of civil war in Iraq make it difficult for the U.S. to achieve its objectives in the Middle East. Now, after five years in Iraq, the U.S. finds itself in a predicament.

The effort has done little to advance the “War on Terror,” has resulted in billions of dollars in investment and is now overwhelmingly unpopular with the public.

So it should not come as a surprise that lawmakers on both sides of the aisle this week are making it clear the sand is running out of the hourglass. Although the differences on the war still exist, there appears to be more agreement that Iraq needs to relieve the U.S. of its financial burden, particularly in the rebuilding of the country’s infrastructure.

A bill in the works would change grants to loans and would insist that Baghdad pay for the fuel used by U.S. forces. Considering Iraq has actually used only a small amount of its own budgeted funds, there is clearly room for Iraq to shoulder more of the burden financially as well as militarily.

There has to come a point for Iraq to stand on its own two feet. Even though U.S. involvement is necessary on some level to look after its own interests, the U.S.’s current levels of resources in Iraq are simply unsustainable.

The U.S. must demand more from Baghdad, and the pocket book is a good place to start.