Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Timetables and Why there Aren't Any

Recently, over at Unqualified Offerings, I made this comment:

Also, when neocons say we can’t set a timetable because the insurgents will wait us out, he is implicitly suggesting that when we leave, the Iraqi security forces will not be able to take over. That is, we will not be able to train the Iraqi security forces to take over for us within any publicly acceptable timeline.

I have also written this on Glaivester:

The general argument against a timetable is that if we set a date to withdraw, then the insurgents will just hunker down and wait for us to leave so that they can take over.

What no one has retorted in response to this (or at least I don't remember anyone pointing it out) is that the deadline is presumably going to be set so that when the time comes to leave, we will leave behind Iraqi security forces capable of defending Iraq. Therefore, waiting us out ought not to be a succeessful strategy for the insurgents because even if we leave, they will have to contend with the highly-trained crack Iraqi security forces. Put another way, by rejecting even a contingent deadline, the Bush administration is essentially admitting that it does not really believe that it can train sufficient Iraqi forces to protect the country within any publicly acceptable timetable.

Now out comes this article in the Chicago Sun Times. Well, if you skip past all of the part about whether or not Bush lied, you get to this little gem of info:

Granting for the sake of an argument that we must train a functioning Iraq army, why will no one in the administration predict how long that will take? Why after several years of that effort is there only one fully capable Iraqi unit (of 750 men)?

James Fallows, in a long and careful article in the Atlantic Monthly, says that it would probably take 10 years, just as anonymous hints from the Pentagon assert. The alternative is set a strict schedule for withdrawal, which Fallows admits would be a loss of honor.

Ten years. Definitely not a publicly acceptable timetable.

In essence, the administration's goal in Iraq appears to be to hide the true nature of our commitment to Iraq for as long as possible, so that we don't know what we have gotten ourselves into for the long haul until the long haul has already passed. The administration hopes that by refusing to give a timetable, but constantly proclaiming that we are winning, he will get Americans, particularly loyalists, to assume that the troop drawdown is just over the horizon - even though that horizon keeps getting pushed further and further back.

Recently, pressure has made the administration hint more that troops drawdowns are on their way next year, but I agree with Seymour Hersh that we should be skeptical about this.

In short, I think I am being proven right.

That is all.

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