When will it end? What's the exit strategy? Condi Rice has no answers:
Several Democrats quizzed Rice over Bush administration efforts to broaden the Iraq mission to include the goal of spreading democracy to the Middle East. The original reason given for invading Iraq was to rid it of weapons of mass destruction, which were never found, they said, and not to embark on more missions in the Middle East.Yeah, sure Condi... Whatever happened to those "mushroom clouds" anyway?
Rice said the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States showed there was a "malignancy" in the Middle East.
"Unless we commit to changing the nature of that Middle East, and if we tire and decide that we're going to withdraw and leave the people of the Middle East to despair, I can assure you that the people of the United States are going to live in insecurity and fear for many, many decades to come."
As Barbara Boxer pointed out, a War On Malignancy is "not what Congress voted for in either the resolution authorizing force in Afghanistan or Iraq".
Meanwhile, Simon Jenkins revisits Baghdad and says withdrawal strategies have lost all touch with reality:
Last week I returned to Iraq for the first time since the end of 2003. If the essence of "getting better" is security then things are incomparably worse. I could no longer walk the streets or visit friends. Anyone associating with foreigners risks execution. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, academics are fleeing abroad for fear of kidnap. The National Museum has closed. Visiting VIPs must go everywhere by helicopter. The Iraqi head of Baghdad's military academy must change into civilian clothes before leaving his base. After nearly three years of American rule, Baghdad is simply the most terrifying city in the world...
Iraq is a landscape of poverty atop a lake of wealth. It is dotted with military citadels whose maze of bunkers and anti-blast walls eerily mimic their medieval forebears. Within, all seems safe and English-speaking. Food is good and Jeeps park within white lines. Outside, so the occupiers believe, a human ammunition dump is ready to explode into civil war should the civilised west depart.
I believe this is a false, indeed a racist, analysis. All Iraq, probably the entire Middle East, is simply waiting for us to go...
An exit strategy is the management of retreat. The cabinet's refusal to adopt one not only betrays its befuddled mission in Iraq but outrages the reputation of the British army. The invasion was merely illegal. The occupation has been the most bafflingly inept venture undertaken by western powers in modern history...
Before leaving Baghdad I saw on television a desperate earthquake rescuer in Pakistan pleading for just one thing, helicopters, to save thousands from death in the mountains. Two hours' hop to the west, I was gazing on inert helicopters as far as the eye could see. Not one was saving lives - only political skins.