Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Infinite Timetables, Etc.

Lawrence Auster comments on a piece at The American Stinker, (which I call that for the way the Stinker's Thomas Lifson accused Mr. Auster of antisemitism for using the term "neocon") where J. Peter Mulhern says that we will need to keep troops in Iraq forever.

Although this is disturbing as a theory (as Mr. Auster points out), the problem is that this particular issue is rather beside the point. Most people are not concerned with whether or not we garrison a few dozen thousand troops there like we do in Japan or Germany. The concern is whether or not we will be able to draw down the forces to a truly post-occupation level and to let most of the actual lifting be done by the Iraqi troops.

Most people are less concerned with whether or not every last American is out in a year (or two years, or more) than with whether or not we will still have 130,000+ troops there in a year. Or perhaps we will need to increase the force to 200,000.

And the fact of the matter is, that the issue of troop drawdowns is driven as much or more by concern for the maintenance of our military as by concerns about the political aspects of "having an exit strategy." What will we do if the minimum troop requirement in Iraq is greater than what we have available? Take our troops out of Japan, Germany, and South Korea? Conscription? (Not likely, methinks). Or maybe decide that we need to keep order with a smaller troop force, and if that means exterminating recalcitrant towns, so be it?

One problem with this war has been the consistent refusal to look at actual metrics to determine success or failure rather than looking at public-relations friendly political goals. In fact, political goals have often been conflated with military goals, with each new step in the process lauded as a defeat for the insurgency, which nevertheless continues to keep on trucking.

If we are really lucky, soon we will at least get pep-talks from the administration that are grounded in reality rather than fancy. But don't count on it.

That is all.

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