Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Immediate Withdrawal

I was reading a post by Garance Franke-Ruta . She discusses Wes Clark's position (enuciated at a conference she attended) regarding immediate withdrawal from Iraq:
Clark laid out, in the Q & A session, the best case against immediate withdrawal I've yet heard, and laid it out in nuts-and-bolts operational terms. It's a scenario that those who back immediate withdrawal would do well to consider.

"It'll be a fighting withdrawal," Clark said. "I can see a long and bloody retreat." Men and women in Humvees and dumptrucks will be pursued in retreat, and be left wondering whether they should fire back or not, the war being over. Withdrawal would take four or five weeks, at a minimum, and be "longer and more bloody if you do it in stages."
I don't usually agree much with the "liberal hawks" like Franke-Ruta or Wes Clark have to say about Iraq, and this is no exception.

It seems that everyone has been infected with Bush's black/white thinking. I don't know of anyone (and I know some pretty liberal peaceniks) who is advocating a literal, Dunkirk-like, immediate withdrawal. The term is commonly used to mean a wide range of withdrawal options with...like....a plan, but none of them include the literal "turn tail and run" scenarios that are often mouthed as talking points by the GOP and helped along by the liberal hawks.

Has the Pentagon sunk to such low depths that they are unable to make a strategic plan for withdrawal? I know it's a lot to ask of our military planners, but haven't there been relatively successful withdrawals in history, and under circumstances much worse than Iraq?

Franke-Ruta then reports Clark said this:
After the United States withdraws, "the insurgents will say they won" and that "claim will be disputed by al-Qaeda." American sympathizers will become targets of revenge by various militias, leading to the persecution and/or murder of up to a million people -- anyone who's ever talked to an American.

"The political process will begin to come apart." There will be "a pretty rapid recourse not just to civil war but to regional conflict." Iran and other regional actors, such as Turkey, may get pulled into the fray. American prestige and legitimacy will be diminished, and the region left behind will descend into chaos.


Given that Clark had a pretty clear-headed view going into the war of what operational realities might be like -- just reread this 2002 USA Today op-ed if you want an example -- it might also be wise to listen to him now.
Excuse me. Maybe I'm missing something, but isn't this what we have now? Sounds like a pretty good description of Iraq today to me. Is a further American presence really gonna make a dime's worth of difference...in the positive direction? I don't really think the Iraqi's, as a people, are gonna get serious about deciding their future until the Americans are gone. Will we like what they choose? Good question. But their course is likely inevitable whether we stay or go.

Worrying that insurgents will "claim victory" is simply American hubris....unwillingness to accept responsibility for having started and executed a foreign policy that is a disaster.

So what.

Let em' "claim victory". Doesn't look to me like the North Vietnamnese claiming victory hurt the U.S. much after the Vietnam debacle. The degree to which there are future consequences to the U.S. foreign policy in Iraq was set in motion the moment we went to war, and is not the consequence of wisely cutting our losses.


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