If that is the rule, then anyone who has ever studied economics for even a minute knows that that means we will be much more reluctant to ever enter a foreign affair again, which may be a good thing. When exit costs are high, then the cost of entering prospectively will be much higher. It also means that we should be extremely hesitant to ever believe anything anyone in this administration ever says in the future about foreign adventures.
Otherwise, Jon, your position becomes one of frivolity. "Oh, darn, we Republicans screwed up and you idiots believed us. Too bad, now you are stuck."
"The only thing dumber than a former Republican is a current one."
There are probably a couple steps between reducing our military commitment in Iraq and "abandoning" the Iraqis, steps that this current Administration and its apologists in the Senate like George Allen can’t seem to comprehend. As a very wise person said recently,
We are no longer ’in charge’ in Iraq. At this point, I’m not sure what we’d do with ’more time’. We seem to be a useful agitation for the groups who get their energy from anti-Americanism; we’re providing cover for the Shiite militias while they entangle themselves with the Iraqi security and political structure. Our presence gives the Sunni’s breathing space to continue their conflict with the Shiites. Perhaps these things will work themselves out over time, but I’m not really seeing how the large US military presence is helping. It seems to me that a calculated (carrot/stick) balance of economic, diplomatic and security guarantees would be more effective at softening tensions and getting Iraqi’s to ’buy in’.
Maybe I’m wrong about the utility of a large US military presence, but nobody has really made a convincing case to that effect — and ’don’t be a cut-and-run quitter’ is not that case
There are probably a couple steps between reducing our military commitment in Iraq and "abandoning" the Iraqis, steps that this current Administration and its apologists in the Senate like George Allen can’t seem to comprehend.
I’m not arguing that more troops = success. Never have. What I’m arguing is that the Democratic position is not going to be fine-tuning the end-State of Iraq from a position of influence. Their position, just as in Vietnam, will be driven by the more anti-war segments of their leadership. We may currently be erring on the side of too much, but their position will be to err on the side of too little.
We could easily have the bulk of forces positioned within striking distance, and have intelligence sources in Iraq. When we uncover al Qaeda associates, we go in and kill them.
I don’t necessarily disagree. But I don’t think it’s quite that easy to withdraw from Iraq completely and then go back in at will. (see: our current predicament with ’hot pursuit’ into Iran or Pakistan) I think the Democrats will be so anxious to get us out of Iraq completely that we’ll have a lot of trouble influencing or optimizing the outcome.
But I don’t think it’s quite that easy to withdraw from Iraq completely and then go back in at will.
I don’t mean to say that we would ever go back in, as in send large troop contigents to "keep the peace". The only reason we would go in would be to kill people, and we would go in anytime we knew of al qaeda associates, and we would go in with enough force to eradicate them, and then leave.
We’re not police, we’re not peacekeepers, and we ARE at war, just not with all parties to the civil war so we make war on the enemy, and leave the rest to Iraqi’s to sort out.
Are you serious, Jon? I mean, to assume that if the Democrats take control of Congress that they will cut all spending on Iraq is without any evidence. Not even the doves have called for an end to funding. Remember, the Watergate Congress had overwhelming support for cutting funding to South Vietnam, including many Republicans. There is nothing approaching that right now. All I hear is a big red herring. I guess throwing Nancy Pelosi around hasn’t poll-tested well. Better to use "defeatocrat."
Meanwhile, Krauthammer issues the most sensible column he’s ever written. Short version: Iraq is in civil war. Terrorists will obviously gain if we completely withdraw prematurely. The real question is whether or not Iraq is still winnable. Krauthammer still thinks so, but is not overly optimistic. If we are going to win, Maliki must crack down on the bad people. He seems a bit pessimistic that that is going to happen, but still holds out hope.
This is the most honest neo-con argument left about Iraq. He says the war isn’t completely lost yet because the Iraqi army is the "only functioning national body." He rightly mentions that the Iraqi army hasn’t really been used yet, except as an auxiliary to US action. And that the real question is Maliki’s willingness to crack down on Sadr. His pearl of hope comes from the intra-Shi’ite squabble, which he believes will lead to new Sunni-Shi’ite alliances that will, in turn, defuse the Sunni side of the insurgency and then take the wind out of the more militan Shi’ite elements. My view is that it’s too late for that. The damage is largely done. There is a Shi’ite split, but unless there is another election, the government will remain nominally united under common Shi’ite rule. And if the intra-Shi’ite war leads to new Sunni-Shi’ite alliances, the forces that might come together might be the worst elements of the two. So, will Maliki crack down on Sadr? I can’t see it happening because Maliki and his Dawa party rely on the 30 Sadrist votes for majority support. If Maliki attacks Sadr, the Sadrites will abandon Maliki in Parliament, Maliki will lose his majority, a no-confidence vote will be held, Maliki will lose power. And there’s no telling what happens next. The real problem, of course, is that Maliki doesn’t have any real authority outside the Green Zone, period. If anything, power in the Shi’ite community has moved away from Maliki and the more moderate parties and toward the Sadrists all over Iraq. Formerly strong SCIRI and Dawa areas are now majority Sadrist, or close to it. Ordinary Shi’ites place their faith in the Sadrists because they’re the only ones willing to fight back against the Sunnis, who are in no rush to lay down their arms, and are flush with cash and weaponry from fellow Sunnis in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Syria. So, I applaud Krauthammer for his honesty. But if even he is this pessimistic, I have less hope in success.
If we are going to win, Maliki must crack down on the bad people.
Here is what I am getting at, and this is the ugly, realistic, conservative, truth about Iraq.
Iraq is not going to be stable until or unless someone with power gets vicious, seriously, brutally, unmercifully, vicious.
It’s not that the vast majority of Iraqi people are not capable or willing to live in peaceful coexistence, THEY ARE, but a small minority in each faction can keep Iraq in chaos indefinitely, unless they are taken down hard, using tactics and methods that the United States can NEVER be a party to.
It’s bad anough that the US is going to blamed for what is to come, even if we are not there, but the situation is this, Iraq IS in civil war, but the sides have yet to engage so the only casualties are innocent Iraqi’s who are more or less shots across the bow in a war that we are delaying, but not preventing.
We can pretend to referee from sidelines, and we can do our best to make sure the side we think we prefer will win, but in the end, it comes down to whoever can gain and maintain total control. There are no civil rights in Iraq right now, the entire country is under martial law, it is a defacto totalitarian government that simply has not been able to assert it’s authority.
If you think we can or should stand in the middle of this and try and actually fight this civil war, that is your right. I say that all we are really doing is holding some forces at bay while others inflict casualties daily. I say that our responsibility is to protect Iraq from Iran and Syria and other potential state sponsored interlopers, and to kill any al qaeda associates that attempt to operate within Iraq. For this we need only a few small strike forces within Iraq, a large intelligence system within Iraq, and quick strike troops stationed in Kuwait and to a Marine Expeditionary Unit standing by in the Persian Gulf, and of course an aircraft carrier to launch airstrikes.
Perhaps Iraq IS the front line of the war on terror, at least now that we have made it into a failed state, but we need to be able to distinguish between fighting that war, and being in the middle of a civil war.
If we make it clear to any factions in Iraq that we will be supportive of those that kill al qaeda and help us kill al qaeda, and make it clear as well that we will kill those that fight with or provide support for al qaeda, then we can at least do a better job of figuring out who to kill and should be able to prevent a pro-al qaeda state from emerging.
Will al qaeda claim victory if we redeploy? I hope so! I hope they march in the streets! Right in the targets of an Apache attack helicopter.
Our presence does nothing to improve the chances that Iraq will become a functional state, it is simply delaying the painful process that Iraq must go through to even have a chance.
There was a reason that many generally hawkish people like GHW Bush (1n 1991) and me opposed the Iraq invasion and preferred that we simply fostered insurrection and supported the rebels. The reason is that if and when the rebels were able to bring down the government, that was just going to the very beginning, and we knew it would get very, very ugly before it was done. And the US has no business putting troops in the middle of this.
If we can get other nations to send in peacekeepers, great, let’s do that, change the dynamic of having "The Great Satan" in the mix. I doubt that they will fare any better, but it’s better than what we are doing now.
Here is the 3 trillion dollar question:
If Iraq had fallen into civil war without direct US help, or more to the point, without US troops on the ground, would ANY self respecting conservative or libertarian be clamoring for us to rush troops to stop them? Maybe if one side (if it was a side we didnt like) was committing massive genocidal atrocities we would consider sending some troops, but realistically, we would probably just tell them to stop and send airstrikes to add an exclamation point to the message.
First, let me note that having Iraq descend into Civil War was precisely the Democratic plan. Al Gore said in the 2000 debates that he wanted additional support for internal Iraqi resistance groups. Well, fine. And if that worked, what do you suppose would have happened? That’s pretty much the definition of civil war.
If Iraq had fallen into civil war without direct US help, or more to the point, without US troops on the ground, would ANY self respecting conservative or libertarian be clamoring for us to rush troops to stop them?
No. Purely internal civil conflicts with no bearing on our national security interest should not be the subject of US intervention (at least, insofar as we’d invade/occupy) However, we would probably support one side or another, depending on our geopolitical calculations. (see: Latin America and the Middle East in the 80s, parts of Europe mid-century, etc)
If we abandon Iraq, I fear we’ll be much closer to the South Vietnam model than the Latin America model.