Since I've started my walk for peace, several people have e-mailed to accuse me of sentimentalism and having my head in the clouds. One fellow wrote to me, "You speak of peace, but in truth, your pollyanna proposal will bring far, far more bloodshed than the current one."
Personally, I have nothing against Pollyanna, but I suppose the writer was trying to convey that I'm a dreamer and an idealist and that peace isn't practical. War is realism, he might say. Fortunately, life is not that bleak. Peace is pragmatic. Let's examine the facts.
According to a University of Maryland study, 78 percent of Iraqis feel the U.S. occupation of Iraq is the cause of the violence. The recent National Security Estimate, a consensus of all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, states the same thing. I have personally talked with several Iraqis and even members of the insurgency who say the U.S. presence causes the violence.
Logically, we can make a conclusion based on this evidence: if we withdraw more troops, there will be less violence. Even better, if we do a staged withdrawal based on benchmark goals, we can monitor the security and put troops back in, if needed, even though all the evidence suggests this would be unnecessary. This is the practical approach.
Those who support "staying the course" because it's "realistic" seemed not to have noticed that there is no evidence, or even claims, that the U.S. presence in Iraq is stopping the violence. They also don't understand how aimless our efforts currently are in Iraq . They are often the ones who demand more "good" stories about the war.
The arguments for staying the course are almost comically idealistic: it's the right thing to do, we don't want the enemy to say that they've beat us, we've started it and we'll finish it. Catch phrases and misused maxims make up the backbone of these arguments. None of them is realistic.
Sometimes pessimists call themselves realists, and it's certainly the case here. Unfortunately, U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians are dying because of that pessimism in sheep's clothing. The facts indicate that there will never be a better time to withdraw from Iraq than right now. It's not just good news, it's the truth.