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The war is over

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The war in Iraq is ours -‘ Democrat, Republican, native-born, immigrant, conservative, liberal -‘ and we must end it. A seismic shift in American politics has taken place, and the time has come for us as a nation to pull together and find the way out.

Consider:

• Iraq was supposed to be the showpiece of President Bush’s transforming neoconservative vision, but since the “cakewalk” to Baghdad turned into a sectarian bloodbath the president has been increasingly reluctant to hang this medallion around his neck.

• The Democratic Party, once happy to allow Bush to take the heat, now looks forward to controlling both houses of Congress and will be expected to lead.

• A presidential election will be upon us in 2008, and no would-be executive – Republican or Democrat – wants Iraq to be their top campaign issue.

• Robert M. Gates, Bush’ nominee to replace Donald Rumsfeld as defense secretary, told the Senate Armed Services Committee at his vetting on Dec. 5 that he does not believe the United States is winning in Iraq.

And now, in this first week of the Christian advent season, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group has bestowed on us this ghastly present: a 160-page report that details the grisly situation in Iraq, the destructive and haunting legacy of the ill-conceived adventure and some ideas for transcending the present moment.

“No one can guarantee that any course of action in Iraq at this point will stop sectarian warfare, growing violence or the slide toward chaos,” the study group’s co-chairs write. “If current trends continue, the potential consequences are severe.”

Months before American troops set foot on Iraqi ground the protesters had registered their outrage by the millions. Those responsible for fighting the war, from National Guard volunteers up to recently retired generals, have expressed their dissent over the three-year period that thousands of their comrades died trying to tamp down the insurgency. And now the political establishment has joined its voice to the choir.

Perhaps their names will ring familiar: James A. Baker III, head of George W. Bush’s legal team in the 2000 Florida election debacle and secretary of state for Bush the father; Lee H. Hamilton, retired Democratic congressman from Indiana; Lawrence E. Eagleburger, also a Bush I secretary of state; Vernon E. Jordan, famous friend of President Clinton; Edwin Meese III, attorney general for President Reagan; retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor; Leon E. Panetta, former Clinton chief of staff; William J. Perry, defense secretary for Clinton; Charles S. Robb, former Democratic senator from Virginia; and Alan K. Simpson, former Republican senator from Wyoming.

While pointedly rejecting an immediate withdrawal of forces, the Iraq Study Group calls for new diplomatic efforts in Iraq and the Middle East, including constructive engagement with neighbors Iran and Syria, and “a change in the primary mission of US forces in Iraq that will enable the United States to begin to move its combat forces out of Iraq responsibly.”

Thirty-five years ago John Lennon sang: “A very merry Christmas, and a happy new year/ Let’s hope it’s a good one, without any fear/ War is over, if you want, war is over now.”

Let’s sing it together.

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