Sen. Barack Obama used his speech in Minnesota tonight to discuss his planned policy towards Iraq, promising that if he becomes president he will end the war and withdrawal the troops. He said it's now time to bring the troops home and demand more from the Iraqi politicians.
"It's not change when [Sen. John McCain] promises to continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians," Obama said, during a speech marking his winning of enough delegates to be the Democratic nominee for president. "It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future," he said.
It's been five years, maybe I've forgotten...but wasn't it the United States that invaded Iraq? Wasn't it the Bush administration and the U.S. congress -- with the support of most of the American people -- who thought going to war in Iraq was such a brilliant idea?
The United States started this war, caused the chaos and destruction and daily violence, and the United States should now be held accountable. Not the Iraqis.
And yet, American politicians -- even the ones who were against the war from the start, like Obama -- talk about the need to hold the Iraqis responsible. Perhaps this is their way of getting over the guilt and shame of having started a war and now advocating leaving a country in shambles.
I do not object to the idea of Iraqis being involved in their political process. They should decide how their new government will be shaped, how it will run and who will be in charge. I think they should decide when and how the United States leaves.
My objection is to the language used by Obama and other politicians. They talk about the situation as if the United States has spent the past five years helping out Iraq, investing all its money into infrastructure, training the people and developing a functioning civil society. And now, after five years, it's time for the Iraqis to step up to the plate. "It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future."
The problem is that portrayal of the situation is false. The United States invaded Iraq, destroyed its civil society and left its museums to be looted, its women to be raped, its children to be killed in the market and its religious minorities to be persecuted for not converting to Islam.
The United States should now work with and support Iraqi politicians to rebuild their country. We should do everything in our power to help them, from providing the best consultants and technicians to training more doctors and mental health specialists. The United States should be apologizing, not pointing a finger and calling Iraqi politicians slackers.