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Take It From the Iraqis . . .

OPINION features excerpts of pieces by columnists from the Op-Ed page and other sections of The New York Times. All columns from the last seven days are available at nytimes.com; Op-Ed pieces (by columnists and outside contributors), plus Editorials and Letters to the Editor, are at nytimes.com/opinion. Please let us know what you think of OPINION at upfront@scholastic.com.

With our Iraq policy floundering, it's time to take advice from the experts—the Iraqis themselves. Ordinary Iraqis are crystal clear about what the U.S. should do: announce a timetable for withdrawal of our troops within one year. A recent poll found that 78 percent of Iraqis now believe that the American military presence is "provoking more conflict than it is preventing." And they're right. Our failure to declare a real timetable, and our coveting long-term military bases in Iraq feed the insurgency and end up killing more young Americans. The present policy is also nurturing a broader extremism. A letter recently seized by the U.S. military suggests that Al Qaeda itself is rooting for the U.S. to "stay the course" rather than withdraw. "Prolonging the war is in our interest," the Al Qaeda letter says, presumably as a tool for the terrorist group's propaganda and recruitment. It's time to face this grim reality. We shouldn't rush the exits, but we should renounce permanent bases and commit to troop withdrawal within one year.

Nicholas D. Kristof [10/8/06]