Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Iraq - Part 1

Iraq of course is a complicated situation, but to put it simply at this stage, we broke it, so we get to fix it.

I don't agree with either of the promoted extremes, bringing the troops home *now*, or an indefinite and vague strategy with no sense or apparent urgency.

I don't think that any fixed, scheduled plan will work, but a flexible, approximate plan can do the best we can do.

The most important element is quite simple: Let the Iraqis decide when we should leave. There is little risk that they will want us to stay for a long, long time. All the facts we have before us point to them wanting us out as soon as feasible, but they're also sensitive to their own security needs.

The strategy of the withdrawal plan is simple: as the Iraqis gradually ramp up their security, we gradually withdraw. They've stumbled a bit, but they'll come up to speed as they gradually gain confidence.

There is clearly some internal civil disorder and tension, but nothing approaching the level of breakdown normally associated with a civil war, so even a relatively abrupt U.S. withdrawal (say, 50,000 leave by June and the rest by the end of 2006) is very unlikely to leave Iraq in a defenseless posture.

We clearly have a lot of political theater here in the U.S. I don't think it hurts either our troops, the Iraqi people, or our national security interests. If anything, the news about political dissent in the U.S. probably amuses the Iraqis and convinces them that the sooner they get "those *stupid* Americans" to go home, the better. Yes, they *are* thankful that Saddam is no longer in power, but they want *their* country back ASAP.

-- Jack Krupansky


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