Sunday, November 20, 2005

What the President Needs to Do on Iraq

I think I posted something like this before, but here is what I mean when I say that the President needs an "exit strategy" for Iraq.

(1) We must determine what ur permanent goal is for Iraq. Do we want a completely independent state? Do we want Iraq to be somewhat dependent on the U.S. for its defense (like, e.g., Germany was during the Cold War). Do we want to form a major part of its foreign defense (i.e. against other countries as opposed to against insurgents and other home-grown malcontents) like we do in South Korea, or like we do in Japan, as a way to insure that its army does not get too aggressive?

If it should be completely independent, what amount of basing of U.S. troops, if any, are we shooting for it to allow as an ally?

If it should be somewhat dependent on us for its defense, like Germany, like South Korea, or like Japan, what sort of force do we want to stay in Iraq on a permanent basis? 20,000 troops? 30,000 troops? What level of drawdown will indicate that the war is over?

(2) We need a condition-based timetable. A REAL one, not some general idea like "as they stand up, we stand down." We need to know under what conditions we will reduce the troop level how much. For example, will we reduce the troops level by 3,000 troops for every 20,000 Iraqi forces trained? Reduce the troop level by 10,000 if the election goes by without serious incident? Withdraw 2,000 troops if a month goes by with fewer than some number produced by adding up some formula involving coalition, Iraqi military, and Iraqi civilian casualties?

Some idiot on Fox News Radio (I think), responded to Democrats' request for an condition-based timetable by saying that that was what Bush had been offering all along. (I think it was John Gibson, who if anything is a bigger blowhard than Mr. Vibrator Promoter). Well, no, he hasn't. Describing the general circumstances that you need to achieve before declaring victory and leaving (we will stay there until we have a democracy that can protect itself, as they stand up, we will stand down) or worse, providing meaningless rhetoric we will stay until the job is done) is not the same thing as providing actual metrics.

Maybe we finally have a bit of an exit strategy (or "victory strategy," if you prefer), but it sems to me that the Bush administration was forced into declaring it, and would have continued on their merry way had pressure not been brought to bear on them.

Of course, the plan for victory and subsequent withdrawal of troops is only half of the issue. The other half is actually figuring out how to achieve the goals that will allow for such a strategy to be put into place. Currently, Bush's strategy for defeating the insurgents is to keep having elections, set up a government, and train a lot of Iraqi troops.

Judging by casualty figueres, both of the Coalition, and of Iraqis, we are not having a tremendous amount of success at suppressing the insurgency.

I suppose the other part of Bush's strategy is continuously annoucing that the insurgency is losing support due to the large number of Iraqi civilians being killed. Although for some reason, the loss of support has not translated into a loss of ability to do damage.

Funny that.

That is all.

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