Kathleen Parker

By April 2007, Mayada was critical of the Democrats and their promises to bring the troops home. Should that happen, she wrote, America "will leave Iraq in its current devastated state, and who knows what will happen in the area, and everything inside this red-hot region."

Her contradictory responses to my continuous questions echoed the debate that has divided this country the past five years. A clear answer has never been easy to find.

That is no longer the case, in Mayada's view. She gives credit to Petraeus, whom she describes as "intelligent and calm, set on winning hearts and souls."

Today she insists that Iraqis who are not Baathist hope that McCain wins the election for one simple reason: "The man knows the job that has to be done in Iraq. If the U.S. pulls out of Iraq now or anytime soon, then that will mean one thing: al-Qaeda won the war."

She points out that for the first time since Iraq's monarchy was toppled in 1958, the country has a parliament, a free press, jobs, a true identity "and a better understanding toward where the country should be heading."

The sectarian divide, meanwhile, is an artificial schism created by al-Qaeda and other non-Iraqis, she says. Many Iraqis are like Mayada, a Sunni, who have married across sectarian lines.

Says Mayada: "When you ask the young people of Iraq -- what are you, a Sunni or a Shiite? -- the ready answer is: I am an Iraqi."

There may be a way to safely withdraw troops sometime in the near future, but as McCain insisted in his Wednesday speech to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles, premature departure would be "an unconscionable act of betrayal," as well as a political gamble with stakes too high to consider.


Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
 
TOWNHALL DAILY: Be the first to read Kathleen Parker's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com daily lineup delivered each morning to your inbox.