The Christian Science Monitor, which shares a Baghdad bureau with McClatchy, reported earlier this week that, under intense U.S. pressure, Iraqi leaders have agreed to start negotiations on keeping some American soldiers in Iraq after Dec. 31, the current deadline when all U.S. forces are supposed to leave.
We're not sure whether the "intense U.S. pressure" is to get the Iraqis to agree to keep American boots on the ground or to wave goodbye to an eight-year-long debacle.
We hope it's the latter.
Is there anybody out there who still thinks the U.S. invasion in March 2003 was a good move? Do people connect the dots and see that, in large part, the multitrillion-dollar debt that's dragging down our nation comes from the pre-emptive and unnecessary war in Iraq?
Nobel Prize-winning economists have reckoned its cost -- including the long-term care of veterans who come back without limbs and with traumatic brain injuries and muddled minds -- at $3 trillion.
One of our courageous Iraqi correspondents in Baghdad wrote in an e-mail this week:
"America has broken the eggs -- put in all sorts of ingredients -- but is not retaining interest/effort long enough to taste the product. What kind of cake will it turn out to be? Edible? Sour? Toxic?"
We think the answer is "toxic." We also think it's way past time for the Iraqis themselves to determine "the product."
We've got more than enough of our own problems. We hope that New Year's Eve closes a bloody and barren chapter of our history.
Starting a new year out of Iraq would be the best way of ensuring that the sacrifice of more than 4,000 military lives and tens of thousands of shattered military bodies and minds had been worth it. Only by leaving that sad country can we get on with the work of saving our own.