In our daily lives, we all have to know when it's time to go home. Now, the Prime Minister of Iraq has insisted that any security agreement between the United States and Iraq include a timetable for withdrawal of U.S. troops. For years, our Administration has been telling us that we are fighting for a democratic government in Iraq. Now that government has asked us to leave. I don't think we should overstay our welcome, do you?
There are probably different reactions to this "demand" from Iraq. Some people might characterize it as "ungrateful." After all, our soldiers have been fighting and dying there, and now the Iraqis are saying we have to tell them when we're going to leave? Other people will see this as confirming their suspicions all along that we were never all that popular among the Iraqis. Let's remember that the Bush administration thought that our soldiers would be greeted by Iraqis throwing flowers at them. That's not exactly what some Iraqis have been throwing at our soldiers.
Either way, you'd think the Bush administration would say, "Okay, if you don't want us to stay, we're out of here." But that hasn't been the response. An administration spokesman responded with a bunch of words surrounded by clouds that basically said, "We'll leave when we think they're ready for us to leave." Of course, they already said that they're ready for us to leave.
John McCain's reaction was that they don't really want us to leave, but Prime Minister Maliki had to say what he said for political reasons. The Prime Minister and other officials responded to that by saying, "No, we really meant it." Even if they did say these things for the political reason that so many Iraqis want us to leave, isn't that a good enough reason for us to go? The supposed democratic society that we have been fighting for just told us to close the door on the way out.
Sometimes, getting people to leave isn't easy. We've all had guests at our houses who stayed longer than we wanted them to stay. And we hinted that they should go. You know what I'm talking about. We yawn loudly. We mention how early we have to get up the next day. But sometimes they just don't get the hint. Right when you think they're going to say" goodnight" and head for the door, they pour themselves another drink or ask for a cup of coffee.
Sometimes you just come out and say, "This has really been a great evening." And yet, some people still won't get the hint. The worst is when you don't have a united front. That's when you're allies -- your spouse or your kids -- start telling a long story just as you're carrying the dirty dishes to the kitchen.
There are times when you actually have to leave your own party to get your guests to go home. That's when you might say something like, "I really have to go up to bed, but please stay and continue having fun." Then you head upstairs, assuming that they will realize that the "fun" for the evening is over. Sometimes they do, but sometimes they don't. Then you resort to desperate measures -- like putting on your pajamas or turning off all the lights.
It's time for the United States to take the hint. Why should we continue to have soldiers risk their lives in a place that doesn't want them there? Iraq just yawned, carried the dishes to the kitchen, and turned off the lights. It's time for us to go home.