Sunday, February 04, 2007

Governor Richardson on Iraq

Governor Richardson of New Mexico is running for President. He said this yesterday:
"The reality is, we have done in Iraq what we said we would do. We have rid the world of a brutal dictator. We have brought about free and fair elections three times over," he said. "The Iraqis now have a constitution, over 200,000 armed soldiers and they have oil revenue. It's time for our troops to leave with honor."
I don't agree that it is time for our troops to leave Iraq, but it seems to me there is an important perspective expressed in the rest of the Governor's statement. I think in some ways that we should consider saying that our war in Iraq is over. After all, our war was against the dictatorial government of Saddam Hussein, and that government was defeated. Today the government of Iraq is not at war with us, nor are we are war with it. It seems to me that our efforts in Iraq at this time are to help the government of Iraq provide the necessary internal security as well as national security against outside agents that are supported by other countries such as Iran.

I think it is important for the United States to support the government of Iraq in these ways for as long as that government seeks such support. But, perhaps this relationship should be formalized by terms of a treaty that both governments agree to. Instead of debating whether "an escalation of the war" is good or bad policy, I think the policy discussion should accept the idea that our war with Iraq was finished with the formation of a constitutional government of Iraq. Now, both the government of the United States and the government of Iraq should formally negotiate a treaty by which we agree to aid Iraq in internal security matters as well as national security matters. If the government of Iraq no longer wants the presence and help of the US, then certainly we should withdraw. Here at home, assuming Iraq wants us to continue to help with security, Congress and the President should be discussing the terms and obligations of a formal treaty to aid in specific ways.

It seems to me that the conceptual idea that is the premise of Governor Richardson's comment, should be accepted because I think it would provide a more sound basis for our own discussion of our foreign policy with respect to Iraq.

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