On the front page of The New York Times this morning, an Associated Press picture shows jubilant Iraqi policemen (and a U.S. Army soldier) dancing on Sunday, the day that Iraq's Cabinet approved a security pact that calls for a full withdrawal of American forces by the end of 2011.
The pact also calls for a U.S. military pullback from urban areas by June 30.
In the picture, the Iraqis appear to be doing the equivalent of the Iraqi hokey-pokey, which, as you know, goes likes this:
You put your ground force in
You pull your ground force out
You do the hokey-pokey
And you screw about
(That's what it's all about)
That's what it's always been about, and it's funnier for us than for the poor guys - ours and theirs - who have been caught in the middle.
But now this merry dance is coming to its inevitable conclusion. After negotiations with the Bush administration, which once said that timetables would only be a help to the enemy, a timetable has been agreed upon. We are going, ready or not, and no more talk about how timetables are bad. That was all just political propaganda anyway, convenient to George Bush's political purpose at the time but not convenient anymore
Now, you could say (and you would be partly right) that the improved security situation brought by the surge is allowing us to get out. Yes, but the situation is far from perfect and we are going anyway because the hockey-pokey always comes to an end sooner or later.
When the Iraqis burst into dance at the prospect of us leaving, it's a fair sign we have long overstayed our welcome. I suppose it's possible that these happy-feet policemen were not celebrating the pact but were just practicing for the Baghdad version of "Dancing With the Stars" but clearly the pact itself is an expression of Iraqi national feelings - i.e., Goodbye, America, it's been real.