The Iraqi cabinet made history on Sunday when it decided by overwhelming majority to support a pact under which American forces will remain in Iraq for up to three more years. It remains to be seen whether the Iraqi parliament will approve the measure, but many hope that they will.
While this may seem like a blow to those among us who would like to see the troops home immediately, the fact of the matter is that the Iraqi government has, for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein, definitively told the United States when our soldiers are expected to be out of their country.
Under the plan, American soldiers will pull back to major bases next year, leaving the Iraqi military to patrol the countryside and cities. By 2011, all troops are expected to be removed from Iraqi soil, probably with the exception of skeleton forces left on our bases (we need some spoils of war, and bases are it).
To drive the point home, the spokesman for the Iraqi government, Ali al-Dabbagh, reported in a press release that the withdrawal date is "specific and final" and in no way dependant upon the situation on the ground.
This occasion is historic, just as was the day when Iraqis walked around with purple thumbs saying that they'd voted. It's as historic as the tearing down of the Berlin Wall and the formation of several independent states into these United States.
The Iraqi government has finally done what the American people have been looking forward to: They've asserted their sovereignty and told us, in effect, "Thanks for the help, we couldn't have done it without you, now please leave us to run our nation."
What could the outcomes be? There are several: the Iraqis could do a really great job, have a working country by 2012 and be well on their way to joining the rest of the world's democracies in toasting freedom for all. Or they could devolve into civil war between the Sunnis and the Shiites, proving that nation-building is the responsibility of the native people and not the conquering force.
Or possibly, probably, there will be a time of tumult and turmoil, followed by a time of peace for the Iraqis, until something else comes along. This is, after all, the fate of most nations.
Regardless of the outcome, the Iraqis have both their confidence and the promise of their sovereignty and this is, in the end, what we've been fighting for the last seven years.
Aaron Davis is a sophomore English major who digs it when people run their own countries.