Sunday, November 20, 2005

Time to Leave

I understand why conservatives desperately want to cling to their pet war and well-meaning liberal hawks desperately want to think that that there's some chance that what they endorsed won't end up being a geopolitical and humanitarian disaster of immense proportions. Even I'm tempted at times to hold out hope for the possibility that there's something, anything, that we can do to unshit the bed just a little bit. While I never thought this would end well, I did think there were opportunities for it to end less badly. But whether or not disaster was inevitable it obviously was not preventable by the ridiculous and incompetent clowns who run our government and who ran the CPA. Krugman's Monday column explains it rather clearly:

So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep the war going for another year or two, which is all the time we realistically have.

Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."

And there's a good case to be made that our departure will actually improve matters. As Mr. Murtha pointed out in his speech, the insurgency derives much of its support from the perception that it's resisting a foreign occupier. Once we're gone, the odds are that Iraqis, who don't have a tradition of religious extremism, will turn on fanatical foreigners like Zarqawi.

The only way to justify staying in Iraq is to make the case that stretching the U.S. army to its breaking point will buy time for something good to happen. I don't think you can make that case convincingly. So Mr. Murtha is right: it's time to leave.