06/20/06 — Iraq pullout? Troops should come home, but at the right time

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Iraq pullout? Troops should come home, but at the right time

Every discussion about what should be done about setting a date for American troops to leave Iraq should begin with the same thought: Everyone wants to see our servicemen and women come home as soon as possible.

There is not a single person in America — Republican or Democrat — who wants to see our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines stay in Iraq any longer than is absolutely necessary to secure the area. We would all rather be gathering at military bases and airports around the country to welcome them home.

That is a given.

Recent, rather heated, discussions in Congress about setting a date for pulling out troops in Iraq netted a rather uncharacteristically sane decision out of a body not known for being able to see the forest instead of simply the trees.

We are going to take our time and do it right, while keeping our ultimate goal — and the safety of our servicemen and women in mind.

And that is the right choice.

During the debates over the decision, there was the usual grand-standing and politicking and a whole lot of rather bold rhetoric about what role the United States should have in the future of the country and the Middle East.

There were also the usual warnings about what could happen if an area that is already unstable is left without a rudder.

The result was a policy that won’t please everybody, but just might have the right focus as we continue to try to determine the best way to continue to fight the war on terror.

The extermination of terrorist mastermind Abu Musab al-Zarqawi did not put an end to al-Qaida or its terror capabilities. And there is still some concern about the elusive Osama bin Laden as well as the continued insurgent attacks that are claiming American as well as Iraqi lives.

All that means is that we have some more work to do before the job is done in the Middle East. And it is important work.

Leaving Iraq too early could result in some serious consequences for the stability in the region and our credibility as a nation.

We have to prove that we can be counted on to stay until the job is done, no matter how tough the task.

Doing otherwise could mean that we might have to come back and do it all over again.

Published in Editorials on June 20, 2006 9:38 AM