AL-QAEDA IN IRAQ….Andrew Sullivan makes the prosaic point this morning that we are “occupying a sovereign Muslim country indefinitely, against the wishes of a clear majority of Iraqis,” a project with little chance of success and considerable chance of creating ever more problems as long as it continues. Then he makes a followup argument that gets surprisingly little air time:

So we should leave. Soon. Let the Shia and tribal leaders and the Kurds confront al Qaeda. It’s about time they did. And they have as good a reason as we do and far better knowledge of the enemy and the terrain. Until they own this war against Islamist terror, it won’t be won. And by continuing to stay, we postpone the day when they have to fight for their own country and their own religion — and win the war we cannot win for them.

Does anyone really doubt this? Putting aside questions about whether al-Qaeda in Iraq is really al-Qaeda — or merely a new name for the most extreme fringe of a nationalist insurgency — surely the best way to crush them is to leave. They are unloved by practically everybody, they draw their strength mainly from our continuing presence, and Iraqi security forces would likely decimate them if they were left to their own devices.

Yes, AQI’s demise would come only at the end of a lengthy and brutal war, but how much worse is that than coming at the end of an even lengthier war run by the United States? Or perhaps not coming at all because this isn’t the kind of war the United States military can fight effectively? Isn’t it time to face up to this?

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