By the Numbers: Why We Need a Timetable For Leaving Iraq

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President George Bush has often stressed that if America wins the hearts and minds of Iraqis, they will stop killing our troops and each other and the country will stabilize. For Bush, that means rooting out Al Qaeda, a strategy that the recently released National Intelligence Estimate dramatically showed isn’t working; the presence of the U.S. in Iraq is recruiting terrorists faster than we can kill them. Perhaps a better way to win over Iraqis would be to (gasp!) listen to what they think we should do and leave. According government and independent polls released this week, more than 70 percent of Iraqis want U.S. troops to quit Iraq within a year, arguing that a pullout would make the country more secure and decrease sectarian violence.

Bush has argued that setting a timetable for withdraw from Iraq would only embolden insurgents. The polls suggest he’s wrong. Iraqi support for attacks on U.S.-led forces has grown over the past year to a majority position—now six in ten. The independent poll by the Program on International Policy Attitudes found that Iraqis who support the attacks also believe the U.S. plans to establish permanent military bases in their country. A majority of Iraqis said they’d be less supportive of attacks on U.S. troops, “if the U.S. made a commitment to withdraw from Iraq according to a timetable.”

Our congress is not entirely deaf to Iraqi concerns. A rider in a defense spending bill that passed the House Wednesday would ban construction in Iraq of permanent U.S. bases. But Bush needs to go much further and set a timetable for withdraw. The independent poll found that a whopping 91 percent of Iraqis, including majorities of all ethnic groups, supported a pullout of U.S. troops within two years. Making even that kind of modest commitment would go a long way towards getting Iraqis on our side.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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