Both parties in the US have wings which they would be better off without. The Republicans have the fundamentalist religious right and the Democrats have the fundamentalist anti-war (or moveon.org) faction.

The decision to go to war in Iraq was and will remain a controversial one. The failure to find WMDs did weaken the case significantly, and very reasonable people can disagree on whether the decision to topple Saddam was the right one.

However the issue of whether the US should simply just pull out immediately is quite another matter. Almost any rational person knows that this would be a disaster and doom Iraq. They are not yet ready to police their own country, and a democratically elected Iraqi Parliament has said they don’t want the forces to leave yet.

However back in the US, the fundamentalist faction of the anti-war groups have been calling for immediate withdrawal. And more and more Democrats have been forced to humour them, as they need their support. And the big shock came last week when a US Democratic Congressman, previously seen as a hawk, called for immediate withdrawal (he now claims it was within six months).

The Republicans, who have been stuffing up so much recently they will deserve any electoral pounding they get, finally did something smart and played the bluff.

They tabled a resolution calling for immediate withdrawal. A brilliant strategy that forced those who wanted to play both sides, to actually make a call. And the resolution was defeated 3-403.

Now for the excitable out there, please remember this post is not about whether the war is right or wrong. Or about whether Bush lied, or about Karl Rove being the most evil man alive. It is about what is the best way forward from here for Iraq.

For my 2c I am hoping troop withdrawals can begin in 2006 and be completed in a couple of years. But there are a hell of a lot of variables that make it impossible to give firm dates this far out.

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