Tom Ricks responding to Andrew Sullivan on Iraq:
Friends, I ask you: What could be more imperialistic than invading a country pre-emptively on false premises and then leaving many years later in a selfish, callous and clumsy manner?
Well, staying, particularly after signing a high-profile diplomatic accord with the country to leave in a responsible, mutually-agreed-upon, years-long drawdown and continue a diplomatic, political and economic long-term relationship. That would be more imperialistic. This has been another edition of simple answers…
Put more seriously, as I don’t wish to caricature Tom, the full, in-depth story of the SOFA has yet to be fully reported, but the Iraqi government rolled the Bush administration. The Bush team were trying to use the SOFA to bless a long-tem presence in Iraq. The Iraqis, knowing that wouldn’t fly with the public, transformed it into the exact opposite, and Bush — pushed by Amb. Ryan Crocker — acquiesced in the absence of a superior alternative. If the U.S. pushed the Iraqis to propose abrogating the SOFA’s basic terms, then that would be way more imperialistic than even a total bug-out of Iraq, which isn’t even close to what the Obama team is actually doing. If we’re actually going to discuss avoiding imperialism in Iraq, we have to make a real effort to consider what the Iraqis want.