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Let's stipulate at the outset that all of us want out of Iraq. I can't think of anybody — left, right or center, and including the president himself — who wants to stay in Iraq because it's so rewarding, or it's just cool, or it's so much fun. It is none of those, obviously.

The argument about Iraq is what to do now. If we stay, what happens, and if we go, what happens? The problem is that the question of what happens if we stay is murky and bloody.

We don't know if it will work for sure. We don't know if Al Qaeda will set off more bombs or fewer. We don't know if the Sunnis and the Shiites will kill each other less or more. We don't know if our troops will succeed in such a way that it actually looks like a success or a win.

We don't know because so much depends on the Iraqis themselves, and as we have seen, they haven't been predictably aggressive in going after the terrorists who are trying to kill them, unless you count the death squads from the sectarians.

We don't know if the Kurds, Sunnis and Shia can get along inside the same government. They used to get along in the same neighborhoods, but those were different times.

What President Bush tried to say today — and all in all, I think he did a reasonably good job explaining himself — is we do know what will happen if we leave suddenly. The skulls will pile up in mountains just like Cambodia. The bloodbath that will ensue will make even liberals scream we have to go back to Iraq.

How do we know this is true? Well they're already doing it to each other.

Longtime Iraq embed blogger Michael Yon reported an incident the other day in which Al Qaeda baked an 11-year-old boy to serve to his parents. And if you don't believe Yon, read The New York Times. Same sort of stuff is there everyday.

Plus, we know what the Democrats are saying will happen when we leave just doesn't make sense. Al Qaeda won't stop its killing just because we're gone. Sectarians won't bench the death squads because we leave.

Michael Berg, the father of Nick Berg, told me last night that we should negotiate with Al Qaeda because they represent people in the Middle East.

Sure we want to leave, but do we want to actually make things worse there?

That's My Word.

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