The House of Representatives in the US Congress has passed a Bill to withdraw US forces from Iraq by September 2008.
The Bill is unlikely to pass the Senate and would anyway be vetoed by the US President, but it certainly sends a strong message that mainstream opinion in the USA clearly recognises the need to start withdrawing combat troops in Iraq.
At the very least, one can hope that this decision by the lower house in the US Congress will finally put an end to the years of smears from Australian government Ministers that anyone who wants to withdraw troops from Iraq is anti-American and a supporter of the terrorists.
It’s a bit hard to seriously call the US Congress anti-American and friends of terrorists.
Then again, it was only last month that John Howard said Al-Qaeda and “the terrorists” were hoping for electoral victories for the US Democrat party and a main Democrat contender for President, Barack Obama, so maybe not.
UPDATE (27/3): The following couple of articles address some of the views epxressed in the comments below querying whether the continuing troop presence is feeding insurgent activity:
Kanan Makiya, an Iraqi exile under Saddam and a key intellectual inspiration for the US policy of ‘regime change’ in Iraq, has admitted he failed to foresee the consequences for his country of the invasion four years ago.
In an interview in yesterday’s New York Times, Makiya, author of Republic of Fear, the book that brought the brutality of Saddam Hussein’s regime to international attention, concedes he allowed his own ‘activism’ to sway his judgment and launched a scathing denunciation of US policy after the fall of Baghdad, and of Iraq’s new leadership. In the week of the invasion’s fourth anniversary, the voice that cried loudest for the toppling of Saddam described the day of Saddam’s execution ‘as one of the worst’ of his life.
An article by former UN weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, providing some historical and cultural background as to why ongoing:
Wahhabi concerns over the weakening of the Muslim world by those who practiced anything other than pure Islam were certified in the minds of the faithful when, in April 2003, American soldiers captured Baghdad in what many Wahhabis viewed as a repeat of the sack of the city at the hands of the Mongols in 1258. Adding insult to injury, the role of Iraq’s Shiites in aiding and abetting the American conquest was seen as proof positive that the only salvation for the faithful could come at the hands of a pure form of the Islamic faith, that of Wahhabism. As the American liberation dragged on into the American occupation, and the level of violence between the Shiites and Sunnis grew, the call of jihad as promulgated by the Wahhabis gained increasing credence among the tribes of western Iraq.
The longer the Americans remain in Iraq, the more violence the Americans bring down on Iraq, and the more the Americans are seen as facilitating the persecution of the Sunnis by the Shiites, the more legitimate the call of the Wahhabi fanatics become. While American strategists may speak of the rise of al-Qaida in Iraq, this is misrecognition of what is really happening. Rather than foreigners arriving and spreading Wahhabism in Iraq, the virulent sect of Islamic fundamentalism is spreading on its own volition, assisted by the incompetence and brutality of an American occupation completely ignorant of the reality of the land and people it occupies. This is the true significance of Baghdad.