Every single day another reason appears for letting the Shi’a and the Sunnis go at it, as go at it they must. For the Sunnis will never permit all the oil wealth of “Iraq,” and what it brings them, to be appropriated by the Shi’a Arabs. What does it take to get those who make or approve, or withhold approval, of policies, to see this? Of course there is embarrassment. Of course there is obstinacy. Of course wishing to see the various vilayets reemerge as the true Iraq, and to see men, money, materiel, and attention drawn from circumjacent Muslim states, instead of from the United States, is not something the Administration need openly desire. It need only find a reasonable facsimile of an excuse, then fax that reasonable facsimile to everyone everywhere.
What is that “excuse”? That “excuse” could be articulated by the President in a speech like this:
1. In Iraq there has developed — it is time for all of us to recognize — a profound civil conflict over the distribution of power and wealth in that society. We cannot, of course, intervene to tell Shi’a how they should use their power, or to tell the Sunnis what new arrangements may be necessary for them to accept. We cannot dictate to the Kurds what is the minimum amount of autonomy that they would be willing to accept, after they were for so many years the victims of mass murder by the forces of the Iraqi state. In order to make sure that a clearly dangerous dictator did not possess, or was not well on his way to acquiring, weapons of mass destruction, the armed forces of the United States entered Iraq and removed that dictator and his entire regime. This ensured that that regime would never again pose a threat for the people of Iraq — especially the Kurds and the Shi’a Arabs. It also ensured that Iraq would not be a threat to its neighbors, two of which [be careful here not to name “Iran”] had been invaded by Iraq.
And there was something else that we accomplished, with the encouragement of so many Iraqis in exile, so many who had spent decades fighting for a free Iraq. [Speechwriter’s note to Bush: well, actually most of those whom the Americans knew were sophisticated, westernized, secular in-name-only Shi’a who had spent decades in the West. They had lost their sense of what Iraq and its Muslim masses were really like: how they thought, how they reacted, what sense they made of things, how they behaved toward Infidels, and what kind of concentric circles depicted their varying degrees of loyalty to family, tribe, ethnic or sectarian identity — but not, save in a handful of cases, to something called “Iraq.” At their encouragement, we thought only of getting rid of Saddam Hussein.] We’ve done all we can. We have spent, or committed, nearly $400 billion dollars. We organized the first free election in the Muslim Middle East, in a country that for decades has been under one military dictator or despot after another. We arranged for the Iraqis to draw up a Constitution, and then to hold a vote on that Constitution. We have seen an interim regime, under Mr. Allawi, and then the first elected leader, Mr. Jaabari. Now there is a legitimate leader of the Iraqi people, Mr. Al-Maliki.
American soldiers have now been in Iraq since March 19, 2003. Before that, for ten years, American planes protected two zones, both north and south, so that Saddam Hussein could only in limited fashion attack either the Kurds or the Shi’a. The American people did not make, and we did not intend them to make [oh yes you did, but let’s not talk about that now] an endless commitment to Iraq. Americans have now been fighting and dying to keep the peace in a country of some 26 million people for several years. It is not too much to expect some of those 26 million people to defend themselves: their government, their own societies, and the idea of Iraq. We are fast approaching the time when we will have been in Iraq longer than the time from the declaration of war on Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany to V-J Day. The American people have spent their money, their men, their war materiel, and have accomplished a great deal. We believe that it is right and proper that we now leave Iraq, wishing it, and its people, well.
Whether the people in Iraq will grasp the opportunity we have given them, and make the compromises with each other necessary to create a real nation-state, is their business. We have accomplished all that we could. I have asked Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to begin the withdrawal of American forces, including all of our military equipment, save for a small amount that is already pre-positioned in Kurdistan in case of future need. That withdrawal should be complete by January of 2007. There are many perils in the world, not all of which we can solve, and not all of which are solvable by military means. There is much to be done, in our attempts, as members of the Western Alliance, to protect ourselves, and others threatened by the worldwide Jihad. Spending all of our capital, the men, the money, the materiel, the attention, the morale of our military and our citizens, in attempting to do for Iraq what it is the duty of Iraqis to do for themselves, is no longer an option.
May God Bless the American People.
[And Good Luck].
Something like that. By Labor Day.