NEW YORK In a Sunday editorial marking the second anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq, The Orange County (Ca.) Register called for a U.S. pullout from that country, becoming perhaps the first newspaper in a Top 25 market to do so. The Register's daily circulation is around 300,000.
"We opposed this war from the beginning and we believe the United States should withdraw its troops sooner rather than later, under a sensible exit strategy," the editorial declared. "While some argue that chaos would follow an American withdrawal, it is also true that U.S. troops have become a lightning rod, attracting the very attacks they are working to prevent.
"Saddam Hussein is out of power, which is good. Now it is time to leave Iraq, for better and for worse, to the Iraqis."
Despite the recent election, "Baghdad is still one of the most dangerous cities in the world, rocked by daily violence," the newspaper said. "Numerous news stories say ordinary Iraqis, who experienced something close to euphoria in the days following the election, are impatient that after seven weeks the elected politicians can't get their act together. ... Violence has not decreased since the elections."
But this might be the time to leave, the paper said, as a recent poll shows that "62 percent of Iraqis believe the country is headed in the right direction while 23 percent say it is headed in the wrong direction, the largest postive-to-negative spread since the invasion. ...
"All this has cost more than 1,500 American lives and about 16,000 wounded. Estimates of Iraqi civilian deaths vary widely, but the lowest estimates are in the tens of thousands. The last few weeks have seen Italy, Poland, the Netherlands and Ukraine announce they would begin pulling out their troops. ... Now it is time to leave Iraq, for better and for worse, to the Iraqis."