I’m a reasonable guy. I understand other nations need sovereignty, too. They just don’t need as much as we do. They’ll get more sovereignty when I think they’re ready. As commander-in-chief of the democratic world, I have a sacred obligation not merely to protect free people from terrorists but from themselves. Right now I’m having a heck of a time convincing Iraqis, as well as the Czechs and Poles, what their vital interests really are.
Those Iraqis still don’t understand, despite my endless warnings, that a timetable for withdrawal of our liberating American troops would signal weakness to the terrorists and allow them to hunker down in safety until we left and then unleash destruction upon Iraqi security forces which, even after our billions of dollars in weapons and training, still are not capable of defending themselves against a much smaller and lightly-armed group of insurgents I call terrorists because I don’t understand the distinction and hope you don’t either. Despite that, many Iraqis now boast they can handle internal security and won’t tolerate any permanent U.S. bases unless they control them. Some Iraqi wisecrackers have offered to establish military bases under their control in the United States. They don’t understand we have an inalienable right to maintain bases wherever we want. Guantanamo Bay isn’t sovereign Cuban territory. It’s ours. The world would crumble if we abandoned our bases. We’re going to stay forever in Korea and Europe.
Later this summer General David Petraeus will explain to them how many U.S. troops can leave and when. I don’t see a big change when a guy like Muqtada al-Sadr, the radical Shiite, says he’ll order his forces to attack if our troops haven’t retreated. What I’m really trying to do is ensure conditions in Iraq never dictate a complete U.S. withdrawal. We’ve got to have a safety net for the Iraqi people, and I like keeping our forces next to Iran.
At the same time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and I are trying to pound sense into Czechs and Poles. Though the Czech Republic just signed an agreement letting us establish an antiballistic radar station on their territory, two-thirds of the Czech people oppose that and so do almost half their politicians. They also have yet to agree to the essential deployment of U.S. troops at the radar site. The Poles are also clueless, so far refusing to agree to accept ten interceptor missiles unless we provide billions of dollars in security guarantees and enhanced air defenses arrayed against the Russians, who aren’t happy, either. For goodness sake, this system is also designed to protect them. It’ll take out terrorist missiles launched from Iran and other such countries in the region. One of them could be Iraq, if we don’t stay.