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Prisoners of Uncertainty
Published on Thursday, June 22, 2006 by The Nation
Prisoners of Uncertainty
by Ari Berman
 

The debate over the war in Iraq has from day one been marked by the disingenuousness of GOP talking points.

Al Qaeda is controlling the insurgency.

We're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here.

We're steadily making progress.

Now that we're there we need to finish the job. Etc, etc.

Each assertion false. But perhaps the most repeated bit of conventional wisdom is that Americans are divided about how the US should proceed.

"The American people have mixed feelings about Iraq--where we are, where we're going there," Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democratic supporter of the war, told the Washington Post yesterday. "The American people really understand that it's a complicated question."

It may be complicated, but the American people are not all that conflicted. For months, a clear majority of Americans have advocated that the US set a timetable for the withdrawal of US troops. Why is this so hard for elected polls to understand?

As I wrote yesterday, voters in the country's top 68 swing districts prefer a Democrat who supports bringing the troops home within a year over one who does not.

And what about the troops? Well, 72 percent of American forces serving in Iraq said last February that the US should leave within a year.

A similar number of Iraqis feel the same way. Iraqi Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a prominent Sunni, personally asked President Bush to set a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces when W swooped into the Green Zone last week. Al-Hashimi was acting on the orders of President Jalal Talibani, a close ally of the US.

Maybe it's time for US politicians to listen to the people that elected them and the country they're supposedly fighting to help. Virtually all Republicans and too many Democrats, as former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said this Spring, have become "prisoners of uncertainty."

Kudos to John Murtha, John Kerry, and Russ Feingold. How many more years will we be in Iraq before all of our elected leaders decide to lead?

Ari Berman, based in Washington, DC, is a contributing writer for The Nation, a contributor to The Notion and a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute.

© 2006 The Nation

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