IN OTHER WORDS: Exit strategy

President Bush has led America into a calamitous impasse in Iraq. Now that voters have made it plain the country has lost patience with a war that has lasted longer than World War II, it is time to forge an exit strategy.

There is no more time for illusions. Once, it might have been possible to help Iraqis create a stable, democratic state to replace the genocidal despotism of Saddam Hussein.

But the Bush administration’s disregard of historical and political conditions in Iraq, coupled with a fatal refusal to heed advice from people who knew the country well, has left today’s policy-makers with a narrow range of choices.

Bush has played the part of sorcerer’s apprentice in Iraq. Now the time has come to repair the damage he has done. Precise dates for redeployment and withdrawal need not be fixed immediately.

What Bush has to do now is to launch an all-out effort to shepherd Iraq’s disparate factions and communities into a political compact while seeking the neighbours’ cooperation in preventing Iraq from becoming a failed state.

At the same time, all the concerned parties have to be told that US troops will be leaving

soon, that America has no need for permanent military bases in Iraq and no designs for colonialist domination of Iraqis. — The Boston Globe