Tuesday, November 29, 2005


We do admittedly face a tremendous problem - that there's little reason to expect that the idiots who couldn't run a war will be able to run a withdrawal any better. Whether we're going to get a fake withdrawal or a real withdrawal (I still think it's the former), the results could be disastrous both for Iraqis and Americans. Those of us who think getting out is the right thing to do don't think getting out stupidly is a good idea. The shorter version of Fred Kaplan's questions here is basically, "Is Karl Rove Setting the Iraq Policy?"

President Bush is going to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. That no longer seems in doubt. The question is: How does he plan to do it? Which troops will come out first? How quickly? Where will they go? Under what circumstances will they be put back in? Which troops will remain, and what will they do? How will they keep a profile low enough to make the Iraqi government seem genuinely autonomous yet high enough to help deter or stave off internal threats? Who will keep the borders secure, a task for which the Iraqi army doesn't even pretend to have the slightest capability? What kinds of diplomatic arrangements will he make with Iraq's neighbors—who have their own conflicting interests in the country's future—to assure an international peace?

More to the point, does the president have a plan for all this? (The point is far from facetious; it's tragically clear, after all, that he didn't have a plan for how to fight the war if it extended beyond the collapse of Saddam.) Has he entertained these questions, much less devised some shrewd answers? If he's serious about a withdrawal or redeployment that's strategically sensible, as opposed to politically opportune, we should hear about them in his speech Wednesday night.

Much as we couldn't control the execution of the war, we also can't control the "peace." It will be a sad thing indeed if "peace" takes the form of the current conservative favorite, the El Salvador model.

...Just on CNN they're claiming over 200,000 trained and equipped Iraqi soldiers. Right.

...Arthur suggests we may Snorkelpuffle from Iraq.