Events in Iraq are giving the lie to administration claims that all it wants to do is create a stable, democratic Iraq, and then leave.
The U.S. assault on the Mustafa Mosque, and the deaths of, variously, 16 insurgents or 37 unarmed worshippers (depending upon whether you believe the Pentagon or Iraqi police), has prompted calls from the Iraqi government for the U.S. to hand over control of security in Iraq to the local government.
Now, if this is what the U.S. government is trying to do anyway, the Bush administration and the Pentagon should be very happy. They've just been told, pretty clearly, that they're no longer wanted and they can pack up and go home, right?
But they're not doing it.
Because the Bush administration has no intention of leaving Iraq, particularly in the hands of its elected Shi'ia-led leadership.
Note also that the Iraqi "government," supposedly sovereign (remember all that talk of handing over sovereignty over a year ago?), is asking the US to turn over control of security in the country to it, not telling it to.
The truth is that the U.S. is running Iraq from the giant U.S. Embassy compound in the Green Zone, and the Iraqi "government" remains a puppet regime. The truth is also that the U.S. has been spending billions of dollars not on Iraq reconstruction, which in any case is not being phased out if it ever was being attempted, but on building several large, permanent military bases inside Iraq, from which the U.S. has no intention of budging in the foreseeable future.
The Mosque attack also shows the terrible morass that American troops have been put in. They're getting shot at from all over the place--probably from mosques as much as anywhere--but if they shoot back, they end up killing innocents. And even when they kill people who were actually shooting at them, those people have families and friends who consider their deaths to be heroic and patriotic. So a blood feud against the American occupiers is made all the more bitter.
Senate visitors like Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) don’t seem to get it. They see that the U.S. has become the focus of Iraqi hatred, and correctly argue that therefore the U.S. should leave as soon as possible, but they miss the point that the Bush administration has no intention of leaving.