This morning Hillary Clinton was booed by the "hard left" (nice touch, ABC) at the Take Back America conference for passing the buck on Iraq:
"The American military has succeeded. It is the Iraqi government, which has failed to make the tough decisions that are important for their own people."
Andre Banks points to the racist underpinnings of this rationale:
Her story of a successful military operation rendered a failure by the intransigence of Iraqis who don't love democracy like we do relieves the American conscious from the guilt becoming a war of terror. And in its place she leaves a racist stereotype our nation is accustomed to: a lawless Brown person who deserves to be abandoned to their uncontrollable vice.
I'm not surprised to hear Clinton use the same ignorant rhetoric employed by her fellow hawks on both sides of the aisle. But from Edwards?
In order to get the Iraqi people to take responsibility for their country, we must show them that we are serious about leaving, and the best way to do that is to actually start leaving.
It's extremely disappointing to hear this unaccountable beltway rationalization echoed by the only candidate who has taken responsibility for a war authorization vote, the only "first tier" Democrat to boldly deconstruct the logic behind the fabricated "war on terror," the only one to issue substantive diplomatic foreign policy solutions aimed at regaining the confidence of the international community, and one who isn't afraid to confront racism head on. Such misdirected tough talk is out of character given this record of courage and leadership. Edwards' candid admission that his vote for the war was wrong positions him as the candidate best able to lead us out of Iraq by taking responsibility and making reparations. But he's squandering this opportunity by toeing the line.
I understand that it's important for politicians advocating withdrawal to dodge the backlash that would ensue from admitting that the reality is a U.S. failure. But rhetorical arguments for withdrawal cannot be couched in terms of punitive measures for those that have already experienced unimaginable suffering. This is not just irresponsible, but morally reprehensible.
If Democrats want a justification for withdrawal that is both honest and politically viable, they should talk about withdrawal as an opportunity for the Iraqi people to at last claim their inhibited right to self-determination, wrested from imperialists and despots that ruled the country since it was loosely conceived as a nation state. This is the language of empowerment, not the coward's "blame the Iraqis" tack.
The U.S. is not leaving as punishment (in fact prolonging the occupation would be just that), but because Iraq is their country--not the base of future U.S. military operations in the Middle East, as neocons would like. The U.S. has no more right to stay and decide Iraq's future course than it did in invading, no more right than Germany did to decide the fate of post WWII Europe.
Assertions that the Iraqi people brought this chaos upon themselves or that Iraqi lawmaker's lack of political will instigated the country's descent into failed state status are abhorrent. And the notion that Iraq can become a sovereign nation within the bounds of foreign occupation is laughable. This is just another manifestation of the backwards "Iraqis stand up, we'll stand down" line. The occupation must end before the Iraqi people have the opportunity to self-govern, not vice versa.
Jonathan Steele sums it up in the Guardian
...the essential point about the Iraq tragedy remains what it has been since April 2003. Bush and Blair bear the prime responsibility for the chaos their ill-conceived invasion unleashed. The problem of sectarian violence can only be solved by Iraqis. National reconciliation, if it happens, has to be Iraqi-led. But the US and Britain are not innocent bystanders, good Samaritans, or neutral guarantors against a civil war. There have been too many occasions already - from the so-called transfer of sovereignty in June 2004 to the inauguration of the first elected government in May this year - when they have said "it's up to the Iraqis now" while remaining in ultimate charge. Only when they leave Iraq will sovereignty truly revert.