Sunday, June 10, 2007

We like Iraq so much, we're staying forever

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Ricks in Baghdad: "U.S. military officials here are increasingly envisioning a 'post-occupation' troop presence in Iraq that neither maintains current levels nor leads to a complete pullout, but aims for a smaller, longer-term force that would remain in the country for years."

The "goal" is still "in the early planning stages," but it seems that "a sharp drawdown of troops is likely to begin by the middle of next year, with roughly two-thirds of the current force of 150,000 moving out by late 2008 or early 2009". Which would leave, if my math is right, about 50,000 for whatever is to be done thereafter. (Of course, much depends on who moves into the White House in January '09.)

What is promising, I suppose, is that military officials are responding to "logistical realities in Iraq": "The immediate all-or-nothing debate in Washington over troop levels represents a false dilemma... Even if a total pullout is the goal, it could take a year to execute a full withdrawal." What is encouraging, too, is that these anonymous comments from military officials depart radically from the Panglossian happy talk that still emanates from Bush's lips, not to mention the warmongering rhetoric of the war's keeners, including Cheney and McCain.

Still, logistical realities aside, it does seem that the military is planning for a long-term stay in Iraq -- which may or may not be a bad thing, depending on what a long-term stay would mean and who in Washington is calling the shots. Many proponents of withdrawal, myself included, have argued that withdrawal needn't mean the removal of all U.S. troops from Iraq (or from around Iraq), after all, and, however messed up this war has become, and regardless of whether or not it ought to have been waged in the first place, the U.S. does have an interest, and not just a selfish interest, in what happens in and to Iraq post-occupation. A small, rapid-response force that remains behind to deal with al Qaeda and the possibility of even worse genocide than there is now, assuming that Iraq descends further into chaos, seems to me to be the sort of military presence that would make sense in post-war Iraq.

Of course, one still has one's concerns -- and sensible concerns have been raised by, among others, Prairie Weather. My own major concern is that Bush is still calling the shots (or being told what shots to call). He has yet to understand, and may never understand, that his war has been a disaster, and I just don't trust him or those around him. Whatever the advice they receive from the realists in the military, they will likely continue to make decisions according to their own ideological (and delusional) presuppositions, as well as according to partisan self-interest heading into the '08 elections.

For a sensible perspective from the right, see Ed Morrissey. More reaction is here.

Labels: , ,

Bookmark and Share


Post a Comment

<< Home