I'll have much more of my own on the subject of Iraq in a full column in the online issue we post at midnight, but for now let me report on some thoughtful and on-target comments that Democratic Rep. Jim Marshall of Georgia offered to me just now, in advance of a debate on Iraq scheduled for Thursday in the House.
Marshall: "It would be a bad mistake for the United States to leave the perception that it withdrew under pressure, or failed in its mission, or left Iraq in chaos. Those and other bad endings would be touted as victory for al-Qaida. The result would be a radical increase in the political strength of radical Islamic jihadists throughout the Arab/Muslim world. That would dramatically increase the security problems for Israel, Europe, and ultimately the United States."
In short, Marshall said he would agree with putting the House on record in opposition to an arbitrary date of withdrawal of American troops from Iraq.
Marshall, whose father was a military officer and who himself was a sergeant on the ground in Vietnam, serves on the Armed Services Committee, has co-chaired a special panel on militant jihadists, has studied the phenomenon of terrorism (including, if I understand correctly, while he was at Princeton), and has visited Iraq an impressive NINE times since Saddam Hussein was toppled, including twice in April. His views merit great weight. One hopes they will be afforded such weight by his fellow House members of both parties.
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