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30 Months in Iraq is 30 Months Too Long


By Rep. José E. Serrano
September 23, 2005

We are now in the 30th month of the Iraq war. Will it take us another 30
months to admit and correct our mistake?

The time has come for an immediate and complete withdrawal of the troops.

We have created a mess in Iraq, and the sooner we admit that and pull out,
the fewer American soldiers will be needlessly lost. As our nation's
civilian leaders, members of Congress owe reality-based assessments of the
situation to our troops, whose patriotism leads them to sacrifice for our
great nation.

The troops' job is to carry out the goals that their leaders set before
them. The leaders' job is to make sure those goals are realistic and
achievable and to admit when they are not. We must admit that we have failed
in Iraq through no fault of our troops.

Since the war began on March 19, 2003, 1,902 troops have been killed and
14,362 soldiers have been wounded, according to a cnn.com estimate.
According to a joint study by the Norwegian research foundation FAFO and the
Iraqi statistical office, between 18,000 and 29,000 Iraqi civilians have
died during that same time period. Sadly, neither of these sobering figures
shows any signs of abating.

Some say pulling out the troops immediately will create a chaotic and unsafe
situation. Current conditions - even with 130,000 American troops on the
ground - are certainly not orderly or safe. Keeping our troops there is not
a way to improve the situation. Furthermore, even if we wait 10 years to
pull the troops out, the situation could be chaotic and unsafe after a
withdrawal.

There is no reason to delay. All that strategy will accomplish is more
casualties and suffering among our troops and among the Iraqi people. We
cannot afford to wait any longer to admit the obvious.

Some supporters of the Iraq war are doing just that.

For instance, there is growing support among conservatives for ending this
debacle. Conservative host Tucker Carlson has called for an end to the war
since mid-2004.

Conservative commentator and radio host Armstrong Williams wrote a few weeks
ago: "The longer we stay, the more people will come from all over the world
to fight us - not to fight for Iraq, but to fight against the United
States."

The former war supporters are looking at the situation and coming to the
conclusion that I have come to: the Iraq war is unwinnable, and asking more
sacrifice by the troops is immoral and wrong.

These conservatives are courageous to take such a stand in today's political
climate, where criticizing this war is often called unpatriotic, or worse.
But when conservatives begin to agree with liberals on an issue, we can know
that national consensus is not far off.

They know, like I do, that if we are to defeat terrorism, we have to focus
on winning battles that we can win and that will make a difference against
our terrorist enemies. Iraq fits neither of these descriptions.

There is only one accurate description of continued American presence in
Iraq: a terrible mistake.

But the Bush Administration is afraid of calling a mistake a mistake, so
others must do it for them. People like me are elected by the people of this
nation to make hard decisions, but this one should be easy. Iraq was a
mistake and we must bring our men and women in uniform home immediately.

We cannot wait another 30 months.

José E. Serrano represents the 16th District in the U.S. House of
Representatives.

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...you voted for immediate withdrawal, I salute your vote. To whatever reasons your Democrat colleagues voted to not, I turn my back in disgust.

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