GOP leaders: If the Iraqi parliament wants us out, we’re out (probably)

posted at 12:55 pm on May 17, 2007 by Allahpundit

It’s the unstated catch-22 in my post about Mort Kondracke from last week. If the democratically elected government asks you to withdraw when you know withdrawal means ethnic cleansing, what do you do? Years before Bush was elected, Fareed Zakaria identified the potential problem in making democracy a moral centerpiece of America’s foreign policy: democracy is a means, not an end, and all too often it’s a means used to crush liberal values instead of protecting them. Bush and the GOP made a bet that Iraqis, if given the chance, would resist religious prejudices and act in their own self-interest by using democracy as a sword, not a shield. Now, with some experts warning that the country’s on the brink of collapse, with Gates, Adm. Fallon, and Gen. Lute all reportedly skeptical about the surge, and with attacks across the country down only slightly from 164 in February to 149 now, Politico wants to know from Republicans in Congress what they’ll do if the Iraqi parliament springs the catch-22.

Having championed the legitimacy of democratic government for four years (in Iraq at least), they don’t have much choice.

Some key Republican supporters of President Bush’s Iraq war policy said this week that if the Iraqi parliament calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops, their position could change dramatically.

“I suspect we would respect their wishes,” said Florida Rep. Adam Putnam, the third-ranking Republican in the House…

On Sunday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on CNN that he was fed up with the Iraqi government and called it a “huge disappointment,” citing the parliament’s failure to pass an oil revenue bill, hold local elections or meet other benchmarks set by the U.S.

Asked about a possible vote on a bill asking U.S. forces to leave, McConnell said: “I want to assure you, if they vote to ask us to leave, we’ll be glad to comply with their request.”…

Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), also a strong war supporter, agreed… “Iraq is a sovereign nation. If they were to do that, we’d be happy to allow them,” he said.

In the House, rank and file members echoed Putnam’s willingness to respect an Iraqi vote. “I think that has pretty profound implications,” Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), a war supporter, said of the possible legislation. “I do respect democracy with all my heart, and I think that will change the equation.”

Maybe the best cause for hope right now is that, the Sadrists’ wilting effort notwithstanding, parliament hasn’t asked us to leave yet. Both sides have a motive to do so — the Shia themselves, to begin the cleansing in earnest, and the intractable, idiot Sunnis, who’ve spent years now inciting the majority and yet still chafe at the American presence despite the fact that they have more fear to from Iran than from us (a fact they may be starting to recognize). If the media’s right about both sides spoiling for a civil war, it seems odd that they haven’t played their democracy trump card yet and formally asked us to leave.

Meanwhile, Bush is looking for support wherever he can get it, including by meeting with Blue Dog Democrats. It didn’t go so well.


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Arab Sunnis and Arab Shias are both Arabs. It’s not ethnic cleansing at all. It’s Sunni/Shia jihad. Or is Islam a race now?

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 12:57 PM

I’d say that it is the same “ethnic cleansing” as in Bosnia/Croatia/Serbia/Kosovo in 1990′s.

The parties were ethnic “Europeans” but of different religions. One group was Eastern Orthodox, another was Roman Catholic, and the third was Muslim. They were all shooting at each other.

Although, the word “genocide” is also appropriate, I’d think.

The irony is that America intervened to save the Muslims from genocide, and bin Laden STILL declared war on us.

georgej on May 17, 2007 at 1:11 PM

It’s actually sectarian cleansing, though the terms get used interchangably pretty often. I wouldn’t get too hung up on that.

Bryan on May 17, 2007 at 1:13 PM

Arab Sunnis and Arab Shias are both Arabs. It’s not ethnic cleansing at all. It’s Sunni/Shia jihad. Or is Islam a race now?

Yes, and Jews aren’t really a distinct race and yet we refer to the Holocaust as “genocide.” What’s your point?

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:13 PM

If the Iraqi parliment votes for us to leave, I bet the Kurds up north will Suceede. What will be interesting then is what we do… support the Kurds and piss off Turkey? or leave our only freinds to the wolves.

Romeo13 on May 17, 2007 at 1:16 PM

#1 American forces leave Iraq, and no serious sectarian violence insues. It’s an American success.

#2 American forces leave Iraq, and serious sectarian violence insues. It’s Democratic defeat of strategy and a Republican victory of “I told you so”.

Besides putting a strain on oil exports and volitility close to Isreal, what’s the downside of them killing each other. If they want it, let them have it. It will inflame the region with civil wars and keep them busy for a while.

natesnake on May 17, 2007 at 1:23 PM

American forces leave Iraq, and serious sectarian violence insues. It’s Democratic defeat of strategy and a Republican victory of “I told you so”.

In no sense will ethnic cleansing be a “victory,” and you’re especially kidding yourself if you think it’ll be a Republican victory. Those deaths will be laid right at Bush’s feet for his naivete in believing in Arab democracy.

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:26 PM

#2 American forces leave Iraq, and serious sectarian violence insues. It’s Democratic defeat of strategy and a Republican victory of “I told you so”.

I don’t know about #2, Nate. Sure, it will be a Democratic victory over the administration (or defeat of Bush’s strategy as you said), but I don’t believe for a minute any Republican will say “I told you so” to the Dems in the face of massive killings in Iraq.

On the contrary, the mantra will be that Bush is responsible for any sectarian killings after we leave because we never should have been there to begin with.

You know, “Bush Lied, People Died”. Only on a grander scale.

BacaDog on May 17, 2007 at 1:30 PM

Yes, and Jews aren’t really a distinct race and yet we refer to the Holocaust as “genocide.” What’s your point?

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:13 PM

Jews have a distinct ethnicity. It’s a religion, but also an ethnicity. They’re all originally Israelites from the diaspora.

Wasn’t Balkans issue Serbians vs. Muslim Albanians? It was two distinct ethnicities

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Damn AP. Beat me to it.

BacaDog on May 17, 2007 at 1:31 PM

Jews have a distinct ethnicity. It’s a religion, but also an ethnicity.

I really don’t want this thread to turn into a debate over Judaism as a race. My point is, what’s your point in challenging me on this? Sectarian cleansing is somehow more palatable than ethnic cleansing? Because whatever happens with the Sunni and Shia, the Iraqi Christians in the middle are going to be getting it from both sides.

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:33 PM

Besides putting a strain on oil exports and volitility close to Isreal, what’s the downside of them killing each other. If they want it, let them have it. It will inflame the region with civil wars and keep them busy for a while.

The downside is that the people who seem to suffer the most are civilians just trying to live a normal life. The killers on each side haven’t appeared to target hardcore Sunnis & Shiites. They’ve gone after teachers, university students, people who dress too western, shop keepers that sell liquor, women that aren’t veiled, non-Muslims in the area, anyone seen as working in a western pursuit (which is pretty much anything that could help take the country out of the 7th century as far as I can tell).

JadeNYU on May 17, 2007 at 1:34 PM

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:33 PM

The Christians have already been getting it in the middle, and we’ve hitherto done nothing to help them. What’s going to change now? It might actually help them to have the sunnis and shia killing one another, for all we know.

Explain to me again why when two factions of our enemy are fighting one another, we need to try to stop them? Robert Spencer and Hugh Fitzgerald make this point all the time.

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 1:37 PM

1. Let’s not confuse elections with democracy. Elections are a prerequisite for democracy, but democracy requires the rule of law, property rights, independent judiciary, etc.

2. We’re not obligated to do what they ask us to do. We’re there not just to establish a free society but to protect our national interest. If it’s in our national interest, after 4+ years of blood, sweat, and tears, to stay there, we have every right to tell them, “Yes, we’ll leave, but not yet.”

Attila (Pillage Idiot) on May 17, 2007 at 1:41 PM

This all boils down to not framing the ‘war’ as a WAR in the first place. All the WMD, Democracy crap is what the big mistake on the adminstration was. If it was ‘we are going there to kill as many bad people as we can’ we wouldn’t be hear right now. It took years to turn over to the Diet and Bundestag full control. We went too fast on the PC edge and that is the great failure of this war.

Reframe it as it should be….War!,,,,,you have a gun you are dead. It isn’t the bad guys who will die in any kind of cleansing……it is the helpless. ‘Let’s leave and screw the helpless’ will end up being the death song of America.

Limerick on May 17, 2007 at 1:45 PM

Jews have a distinct ethnicity. It’s a religion, but also an ethnicity. They’re all originally Israelites from the diaspora.

Depends, as one can convert to Judaism. Somehow, I don’t see Sammy Davis Jr. as the distant relative of some Jewish tribe. If you want to go with the ethnic route, then they are Semitic. Which means, strangely enough, they are genetically closest to the Arabs.


Wasn’t Balkans issue Serbians vs. Muslim Albanians? It was two distinct ethnicities

Nope, it was two Christian groups against a Muslim one. That the only group popularly identifed were Muslims doesn’t suddenly give the Eastern Orthodox church a free pass. There’s enough intermarriage and cultural similarities that the only visible difference in custom is where and how one prayed.

Oddly, the bulk of the population, regardless of where and how they prayed stayed out of it.

Kinda nit-picky regardless. If the US leaves, one group who believes differently from another group will attempt to exterminate those that are different.

Krydor on May 17, 2007 at 1:52 PM

Um, yo, those of you debating what ethnic/religious cleansing is/isn’t, could we get back to the topic at hand, namely the GOP selling out, again?

I say we cut Bush and these GOP nitwits from our party, and start again in ’08, being able to say, “Look we threw them out, and we’re disassociating ourselves with them.”

amerpundit on May 17, 2007 at 1:58 PM

Explain to me again why when two factions of our enemy are fighting one another, we need to try to stop them?

1. Muslims are the enemy, then? I was under the impression it was jihadis who were the enemy.
2. Were you not defending Christianity to me on this very site just yesterday? And now you’re defending the prospect of a civil war in which tens of thousands of innocent people are going to be slaughtered? It’s one thing to balance all the interests here and say, “we simply can’t sustain a presence in Iraq, whatever the consequences,” but to treat ethnic cleansing as some sort of feature instead of giant bug is … I don’t even know what to say. Christianity sure is a lot more complex than I thought.

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 2:01 PM

In no sense will ethnic cleansing be a “victory,” and you’re especially kidding yourself if you think it’ll be a Republican victory. Those deaths will be laid right at Bush’s feet for his naivete in believing in Arab democracy.

I zoned out for a little while. Yes, #2 was said with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

Democrats are the only ones who win because if there is #1 no violence, then THEIR exit strategy worked (despite everything that led up to it). #2 if there is violence, then Bush’s illegal war caused all the violence to begin with (as you clearly pointed out). They don’t think twice about dancing jubilantly on a pile of bodies.

Sarcasm is sometimes lost in the written word.

natesnake on May 17, 2007 at 2:03 PM

Years before Bush was elected, Fareed Zakaria identified the potential problem in making democracy a moral centerpiece of America’s foreign policy: democracy is a means, not an end, and all too often it’s a means used to crush liberal values instead of protecting them

Wait, so you mean before the war people who devoted their lives to the study of political theory, international politics, and the Middle East in particular had their doubts about the effectiveness of a US invasion and the inevitable occupation that would follow? Who woulda thunk it?

I thought it was pretty much universally agreed on that we would be greeted as liberators, the oil money would pay all the bills, and Iraq would become a beacon a freedom that would turn all Middle Eastern nations into secular liberal democracies…no?

Oh wait, I know, this is what would have happened if those treasonous Democrats and their RHINO enablers wouldn’t have ruined everything with their doubts and second-guessing and questioning of the all-powerful neocon master plan.

JaHerer22 on May 17, 2007 at 2:19 PM

Wait, so you mean before the war people who devoted their lives to the study of political theory, international politics, and the Middle East in particular had their doubts about the effectiveness of a US invasion and the inevitable occupation that would follow? Who woulda thunk it?

Apparently not the vast majority of Democrats who also voted for the war.

natesnake on May 17, 2007 at 2:22 PM

if it wasn’t for oil, we could just let Saudi Arabia and Iran duke it out…..but then if it weren’t for oil they wouldn’t be players.

jp on May 17, 2007 at 2:42 PM

the real question is if a majority Islamic country is capable of Democracy when their religion basically teaches them to be slaves to a master.

as Mark Steyn says, there can be moderate muslims, but there is no moderate Islam

jp on May 17, 2007 at 2:44 PM

We and the Iraqis would have been so much better off with a pro-American dictator there that would have had the means to guarantee security and certain freedoms, such as the freedom to worship, which many Iraqis don’t have right now. The security situation would have been much better.

How many countries in East and Southeast Asia became prosperous with democracy from the get go? None because the communists and socialists would never have allowed it. They all became prosperous with strongmen who guaranteed certain freedoms for the majority but curtailed them for those who did not want the country to succeed. Examples: South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, etc.

januarius on May 17, 2007 at 3:30 PM

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 2:01 PM

Hysterical! You obviously think you know more about Islam than Robert Spencer, who posts a vlog here once a week. Did you ever try listening to him? Where are we morally obligated to stop our enemies from fighting, especially when we know they’re going to start fighting us as soon as they’ve stopped fighting one another?

1. Muslims are the enemy, then? I was under the impression it was jihadis who were the enemy.

Have you studied Islam at all?

Christianity sure is a lot more complex than I thought.

Allahpundit on May 17, 2007 at 2:01 PM

How would you even know? Is this more of your ‘argument by outrage’ tactics? Aren’t atheists supposed to be the logical, rational ones? I’m making an argument that the JihadWatch staff and every student of military history would make. Are we making them fight one another? Aren’t they doing that themselves? Are we putting bayonets to their backs and making them kill one another?

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 3:38 PM

Fine, AP. Let’s look at this from a Christian perspective.

“Mark 12:31The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”

Who are my neighbors here, AP? The Iraqis certainly are. But so are my countrymen. You, my family, Bryan. I want the Iraqis to stop fighting, because the sunni and shia are both my neighbors. But guess what? As soon as they stop doing that, given their religion, they’re going to start killing more of my neighbors (you, me, Bryan, my family). Their religion commands it. The sunni branch (Al Qaeda, the Muslim brotherhood) has already acted upon it (9/11). The shia branch (Iran) has acted upon it (hostage crisis, 1979, Marine barracks, Beirut) and is threatening far worse. Well, now I’m really in a conundrum. I want my neighbors in Iraq to stop fighting one another, but I don’t want more of my neighbors to die whom I’m closer with and I have more of a chance of coexisting with. What am I to do? My best option, given the 1400 year history of Islam and the overwhelming weight of Islamic jurisprudence is to, guess what, let some of my neighbors go at it.

Do you appreciate the nuance of this argument?

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 3:48 PM

“GOP Leaders” is becoming a real oxymoron

Chuck on May 17, 2007 at 4:17 PM

*Sigh*

1. Muslims are the enemy, then?

YES! MOSLEMS ARE THE ENEMY! There, is that clear enough for you? Geez.

Andy in Agoura Hills on May 17, 2007 at 4:42 PM

Are you idiots NOW seeing the writing on the wall, that 3/4 ths of America has known for a year now. Hummmmmm reality sinking in or are you still on the river denial.

Also you experts on Islam who got all your info on Fox news or Rush need to get some books and read.

gmcjetpilot on May 17, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Also you experts on Islam who got all your info on Fox news or Rush need to get some books and read.

gmcjetpilot on May 17, 2007 at 10:20 PM

Guess what? I got a Qur’an and read it. Then I studied the hadith. I’m still at the same conclusion I was on 9/11.

PRCalDude on May 17, 2007 at 10:27 PM

Thanks for the counterpunches, PRCalDude. Greatly appreciated!

Also you experts on Islam who got all your info on Fox news or Rush need to get some books and read.

gmcjetpilot on May 17, 2007 at 10:20 PM

FWIW I agree, but not in the way our pilot meant it. I don’t know about Rush, but Fox News has a lot to learn about Islam. Any book by the scholars Bat Ye’or, Robert Spencer, Serge Trifkovic, Andrew Bostom or K.S. Lal is a step in the right direction.

And, for those who think more like gmcjetpilot on principle, I might suggest An Apologist’s Guide To Islam by Karen Armstrong, though any book by Armstrong, John Esposito or Juan Cole will suffice.

RD on May 18, 2007 at 8:01 AM