Getting Out Is Hard To Do

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

How long do we stay? How do we go?

How long do we stay? How do we go? Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Source: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

When you think about the American military in Iraq, it's hard not to just squeeze your eyes shut tight and say, "When will it be over — I want Iraqis and Americans to be safe." But what does "over" mean? The military relationship we have built in Iraq cannot be dismantled easily — and there are burning humanitarian questions that linger even if we were to just disappear overnight. How long, and how we are to stay in Iraq remains a question that is constantly debated at dinner tables, on the radio (see, er... here), in the blogs, in newspapers — and everybody loves to play military adviser (it's much easier to give yourself stars — or a cabinet position). Today, we're talking to actual military men — about the stay or go debate — but we want your input as well. What factors should you consider before pulling out of Iraq? What factors would make you stay?



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I really don't see a way of getting out of there anytime soon--if we leave in the near future, with no solid Iraqi security in place, things will disintigrate for the people there will be in an internal war we essentially caused. We may be resented now, but that would cause us to have bitter hatred aimed at America from all across Iraq.

If we stay until the job is done, so to speak, I fear it may take at least a generation to bring the future leaders up in a world of hope and stability. Then where have our soldier's lives and dollars gone? It is no easy task, for sure.

Sent by Caroline Murphy | 2:45 PM | 3-6-2008

By involving UN lot of other countries can contribute peace keeping force. No body seems to remember but in the beginning days after Saddam's fall , Russia, China & India are ready to contribute 20,000 troops each under UN leadership. Also involving other Arab nation's forces can bring troops level to 300,000 plus like Mr. Colin Powell suggested in the past. Thus US can share burden with other nations. Like a 2 year old keeps his precious toy to him self by not sharing with anybody, US need not take whole burden, can engage other nations. But US cannot get no bid contracts to KBR,etc. So given the benefits of sharing burden not getting no bid contracts to US defense suppliers is no big deal.

Sent by Kiran Gundu | 2:55 PM | 3-6-2008

You could do an entire two hours on the subject raised in hte last minute: how to get out of Iraq. I have the utmost respect for Ann Garrels, and to an extent agree with her statement that we need to get past how wrong it was to get in there and how incompetently the occupation was conducted. BUT: there is no sign that most of us have recognized how badly it was screwed up, and no sign that most of us have learned the lessons that should have been remembered from Vietnam, and can recognize the tactics and arguments that were used to drive us into this war and away from any attempt to track down bin Laden. That is, until people like Hillary Clinton can speak to the fear of those who should have known better to be called "soft on terrorism", and resolve to speak out against such fear mongering whenever it rears its ugly head, we stand in danger of doing the same damned sort of thing again.

I haven't been to Iraq; but I have a Silver Star, Purple Heart, and Conscientious bjector discharge from Vietnam.

Sent by William S. Caple | 3:10 PM | 3-6-2008

Do either of the Generals believe that a true democracy will ever evolve in Iraq whether or not we stay or leave? Just having elections does not make a democracy.

Sent by Peggy | 3:11 PM | 3-6-2008

I wonder - has anyone thought to ask the Iraqi people what they think and want regarding this question?

Sent by Kristy | 3:16 PM | 3-6-2008

There is obviously no easy way to get out of Iraq. One of the most interesting to me is to pull back to the perimeter, and let Iraqi's try to rebuild their own country. Our main goal would be to protect the borders from incursions from other countries. This would be a much smaller and less expensive force to maintain.

Sent by john | 3:26 PM | 3-6-2008

Should we stay or should we go? Well, clearly we have to clean up the mess we made over in Iraq, but until we can re-establish our credibility with the Iraqi people, we will only do more harm than good. In the previous segment, Anne Garrell (sp?) remarked, in response to a caller, that it doesn't do us any good to go back and rehash the mistakes that were made going into Iraq, and that we just need to get on with the business of stabilizing the country. I would argue that we will never be able to achieve anything over there until we are willing to hold the Bush administration to account for the crimes that were committed in order to get the war started in the first place. I continue to be dumbfounded by America's lack of outrage over this war. Seems like everyone just wants to sweep it all under the carpet and put it all behind us. It's not going to be behind us anymore than VietNam is behind us. The Iraqi people will not forget, nor will the rest of the world.

Sent by Mark R White | 3:29 PM | 3-6-2008

Why haven't we done the only thing that will help the situation in Iraq and that is to work with the religious leaders to accept each Muslim sect equally instead of walling off the cities and raise hatred between the factions. We could have built how many schools and educated nearly half a generation in the time we have been there. Why not send anthropologists and educators instead of soldiers?

Sent by Dianne Holmes | 3:32 PM | 3-6-2008

I have a son in the Army and I keep hearing that more troops are pulling out with the misconception that no troops are going to replace them..... In July my son and his company are going to Iraq to replace the troops that returning. So how can the media keep reporting that the troops are being diminished when all the military is doing is really replacing the troops that are returning state side?

Sent by Debi | 3:32 PM | 3-6-2008


I want to know why we went to war with Iraq in the first place?? Did our President say to us that they were a threat?? What kind of threat were they??

Ok, so we were also told that we needed to relieve them of a dictator (Saddam)? Please tell me what 3rd world country does not have a dictator at the helm??

Why Iraq? Why not go on a campaign to save the whole world???

If anyone would care to study history, people in the Middle East have been at war of some kind for centuries. 2,4,6 or 20 years in Iraq will make no difference.

The people of this nation spoke when they voted the Republicans out of the majority in Congress. Since then, the democrats have done nothing, but be shoved around by the Bush administration.

I also realize that a lot of folks are getting rich off the human suffering there, so lets be honest.

Its time to bring this nonsense to and end.

Americans wake up!!


Sent by Phil Phillips | 3:36 PM | 3-6-2008

I've really enjoyed the two guests this afternoon. Even though they had differing opinions they were civil and cordial to each other. There was not the competition to "talk over" each other. So many times when there are guests with differing views (T.V, radio) the guests try to dominate the conversation.

Sent by Phyllis Malone | 3:49 PM | 3-6-2008

Pres. Bush admitted that Iraq had nothing to do with the September 11th attacks. What neither of these top military people would admit is that Iraq is simply the staging ground for the so-called war on Terror. Why Iraq? Why not, as far as Bush and Cheney are concerned. The real casualties of war are not the soldiers on either side but the innocent citizens of the countries at war. Soldiers know they could die or be injured because they are combatants and it comes with the duty. Citizens, on the other hand, are caught in the middle and suffer because they have no way out. Iraqi citizens have died at more than 10 times the rate of US military or Al Queda warriors. Americans have one thing to be happy about concerning this war - that they don't live in Iraq.

We must get out of Iraq. The sooner we do the sooner the Iraqi citizens can get their lives back together. And the sooner we can take that long overdue, much needed look inside ourselves to see just what kind of humans we Americans really are.

Sent by Dan Hardman | 11:47 PM | 3-6-2008

This was one of the most engaging and enlightening segments I've heard on TON. The candor of the two distinguished military men almost took my breathe away. Why so little candor on a topic we've been hoodwinked over for many years

Sent by Chris Anderson | 2:48 PM | 3-7-2008