NY Times columnist Paul Krugman actually gets it — the War in Iraq only strengthens the hand of those who would do us harm. His solution is to set a withdrawal deadline, so that the Iraqis can take responsibility for their own protection instead of depending on us.

He also says that America is being held hostage to the whims of Bush:

A majority of Americans now realize that President Bush deliberately misled the nation to promote a war in Iraq. But Mr. Bush’s speech on Tuesday contained a chilling message: America has been taken hostage by his martial dreams. According to Mr. Bush, the nation now has no choice except to keep fighting the war he wanted to fight.

Bolstered by the Downing Street Memo, people are finally starting to realize that Bush had made up his mind to go to war all along, despite the denials of sidekick Tony Blair at Prime Minister’s Questions Wednesday. And Bush’s approval ratings have taken a hit; a Survey USA poll of all 50 states shows that Bush’s approval rating is at 43%, with 52% disapproving. Even in Texas, people are skeptical of the President; his approval rating there is only 50% to 47%.

Krugman goes on to explain that Iraqi has become a training ground for terrorists:

I know that this argument will be hard to sell. Despite everything that has happened, many Americans still want to believe that this war can and should be seen through to victory. But it’s time to face up to three realities. First, the war is helping, not hurting, the terrorists. Second, the kind of clear victory the hawks promised is no longer possible, if it ever was. Third, a time limit on our commitment will do more good than harm.

Before the war, opponents warned that it would strengthen, not weaken, terrorism. And so it has: a recent C.I.A. report warns that since the U.S. invasion, Iraq has become what Afghanistan was under the Soviet occupation, only more so: a magnet and training ground for Islamic extremists, who will eventually threaten other countries.

America has engaged in regime change before within the last 20 years. We have toppled governments in Grenada, Panama, Haiti, and Yugoslavia. But there was a big difference between these countries and Iraq. In Iraq, crippling sanctions which killed hundreds of thousands of children through malnutrition and preventable diseases made our government very unpopular. Therefore, the administration should have foreseen that an attempt to change regimes in Iraq would allow Bin Laden and Zaraqwi to exploit the plight of the Iraqi people for their own evil purposes.


In other news:

Is Syria next? US freezing assets of Syrian officials.

The Post’s E.J. Dionne: Poll numbers after speech show little enthusiasm for war among Americans.

Bush: Of course we’re winning; just look at this summary of body counts!

Brookings Institution op-ed: Bush ignored security and economic policies in Tuesday speech.

Former Bush I physician speaks out against torture; compares current US policy to "Heart of Darkness."

Sistani aide, 17 others killed by attacks.

Extraordinarily high pollution levels in Iraq.

Early US attitudes towards Iraqi strife: "Oh, it’s just them killing each other!"

Iraqi war vet’s idea for Iraq: Combine American and Iraqi units together, so Iraqi troops can see how it’s done.

Iraqi resistance adapting to each new US tactic; US could withdraw to fortresses and force Iraqi government to defend itself.

An Iraqi journalist’s struggle to survive in Iraq.

Italian prosecutors seek extradition of 13 CIA agents; Italian government denies advance knowledge of kidnapping of cleric.

How the right fails to protect us against health and terrorist threats.

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