From The Guardian via AmericaBlog:
Leaders of Iraq's sharply divided Shiites, Kurds and Sunnis called Monday for a timetable for the withdrawal of U.S.-led forces in the country and said Iraq's opposition had a "legitimate right" of resistance.
The final communique, hammered out at the end of three days of negotiations at a preparatory reconciliation conference under the auspices of the Arab League, condemned terrorism, but was a clear acknowledgment of the Sunni position that insurgents should not be labeled as terrorists if their operations do not target innocent civilians or institutions designed to provide for the welfare of Iraqi citizens.
It really gets no more clear than that: the Iraqis do not want us in their country any longer. The Bush Administration has no further leg to stand upon on the issue of the Iraq war. Now, if we stay, we've truly become an imperialist power that is maintaining a military presence in a foreign nation against their express wishes. There were no WMD's. There was never any alliance between Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaida. Hussein and his Ba'athist regime are out of power and the country has both a democratically-elected government and a constitution. And now that democratically-elected government has asked us to leave. What more excuses for staying can Bush or Cheney possibly offer?
What's even more disturbing is the second paragraph that grants legitimacy to the insurgency. Yes, they also condemned terrorist violence but that violence is defined as aggression against civilians. U.S. soldiers occupying Iraq are certainly not civilians. The will of the Iraqi people seems clear, in as much as any elected government speaks for its people. They do not view us as saviors or liberators; they view us as occupiers and they would like us to leave. If we don't, they have said they are entitled to legitimate resistance to our presence there. Again, it doesn't get any clearer than that.
It's time for the Bush Administration to put an end to this mummer's farce and bring our soldiers home where they belong. The majority of Americans don't want them in Iraq and now the Iraqis have publicly stated that they don't want our soldiers in Iraq either. This war was, at best, one of the largest military tactical blunders in history and is a sad repeat of past American imperialist failures. All the heady rhetoric about "spreading freedom and democracy" cannot bring back the 2,000+ dead Americans that gave their lives for a war of ill fortune.
As for the broader "War on Terror", Iraq was never really part of that picture no matter what the Republicans like to claim. There were no significant terrorist organizations at work in Iraq prior to our invasion because Saddam Hussein's brutal dictatorship did not allow them to operate. Bin Laden was openly hostile to the Iraqi leader, and only misleading statements from Bush and Cheney ever brought any notion of an Al-Qaida/Iraq connection. Those groups certainly exist there today and now Americans will be forced to rely on a fledgling Iraqi government to contain and combat them.
This will be the sad legacy of the Bush Administration, even if Iraq does become a functioning modern democracy. A war of choice that cost the lives of thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis, and left America more vulnerable to attack than ever. A war that cost us heavily in lives, treasure and reputation in the world, only to be rebuffed by the very people our leader claimed to be "liberating". Change was always coming to Iraq; Hussein was an impotent dictator, isolated from the world, and his regime was unlikely to survive his death. All Bush did was demonstrate a careless disregard for the responsibilities of the office granted him by the American people. He rushed to war, either for reasons of political expediency, ideology or just plain incompetence, and the world is left a poorer place for it.
So how will George W. Bush justify his war now?