Editorial: The Iraq mess / Harsh reality underscores the need to leave

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Lest we forget, this week Iraq has presented an especially bloody tableau to the world, with some 62 bodies having been found in Baghdad alone, many of them mutilated indicating torture, as well as other high-toll car bomb attacks (four U.S. soldiers died yesterday).

This occurred in spite of the weeks-long campaign that both American and Iraqi forces have carried out to try to improve the security climate in the capital. One byproduct of the pullback of forces to Baghdad has been that the security situation in other parts of Iraq has deteriorated, causing the senior U.S. Marine intelligence officer in Anbar province in bloody western Iraq, for example, to let slip the fact that in his view another U.S. division would be required there to bring the insurgents under control.

The other political development was the visit of U.S.-selected Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Kamal al-Maliki to Tehran, where he met with some of America's least favorite Iranian leaders, including Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This is the Iranian president who wishes to see Israel erased from the map and who promises that Iran will proceed with its nuclear program no matter what the U.N. Security Council or anyone else does.

Mr. al-Maliki is finding his visit to Iran helpful. This is not surprising given that he and his government, dominated by Shiite Muslims, constantly challenged by the basically Sunni insurgents and by the threat of growing Kurdish secessionist tendencies in the north, is inevitably allied with Shiite Iranian officials and clerics, in spite of the 1980-88 war with Iran, which claimed an estimated 1 million dead.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck CD, or worse, seeming to agree with part of the Democratic Party, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it is definitely time for the United States to get out of Dodge, to disengage itself in as dignified a manner as possible from what is a hopeless mess in Iraq, one which soaks up U.S. time, lives and money with no end in sight.

President Bush is certainly free to say America's safety depends on the situation in the streets of Baghdad. If that were true, it would be an appalling assessment of our country's current situation. Fortunately, it isn't true; it is, instead, partisan political rhetoric from Mr. Bush which has no place now, 31/2 years after this war was started. A serious president would, instead, step up to the plate and take steps to get America out of Iraq.


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