So why isn#8217;t Washington celebrating?

Published 12:00 am Friday, July 11, 2008

This week the Iraqi government told the world that it is time for America to establish a timetable to leave Iraq, a timetable to demonstrate that we were indeed liberators, not occupiers.

With al-Qaida now outcast by the Iraqi people and the civil war winding down, the Iraqi government has seen enough evidence of its strength in governing, and of its army’s ability to defend the nation to tell the United States that we can now establish a timetable to remove our troops.

This is wonderful news, and we should rejoice and celebrate that the time has finally come for this war, ill-conceived and poorly planned from the beginning, to end. It is time to listen to the American people, who by a strong majority want our troops brought home, sooner rather than later.

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Now the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people ask for the same withdrawal that Americans seek and that presidential candidate Barack Obama has argued for in his campaign.

So why no celebration in Washington, in the Bush administration? Why is Sen. McCain not rejoicing

that our troops will finally come out of the line of fire and return home?

Tues-day the White House said the Iraqis really didn’t say that they wanted a timetable, a proposition this president has always refused to consider. Wednesday McCain suggested that the request was really just a political argument about the new agreement between the U.S. and Iraq once the UN mandate expires.

Now, as the weekend approaches, the administration and McCain’s campaign are both silent about the decision in Iraq that allows our troops to come home. Some of their surrogates are suggesting that we will not leave Iraq until our national interests are met.

But what national interests are these? Did not the administration tell us we went to Iraq (in the 12th rendition of a rationale for war) to free the Iraqi people from Saddam Hussein the terrible dictator?

Could it be that the administration and McCain have not been honest with the American people, and they think our interests are more than what they have espoused for the last few years? Could it be that we have no intention of leaving without control of Iraqi oil and without permanent military bases in Iraq?

If this is not true, then why are we not celebrating this weekend that the Iraqi people are now ready to realize their independence?

If we do not leave Iraq when asked by the constitutionally elected government of Iraq, with the public support of the Iraqi people, then are we not simply occupiers, not liberators? In 2004 McCain was asked what we should do if the government of Iraq asked us to leave. At that time he said we would have to leave, of course. Today he seems to not be able to say that those words were true and right for both Iraq and the United States.

Is it possible that McCain actually expressed both his sentiments and those of the administration when he spoke of remaining in Iraq for 100 years?

Is it possible that, once again, this administration and its supporters lied to the public about the reasons for invading Iraq?

The president and McCain told us we can leave Iraq when the government stands up and we stand down. That time is now.

This was our mission, and the Iraqi government says “Mission Accomplished.”

Jim Crawford is a contributing columnist and a former instructor at Ohio University Southern.