Dueling Headlines About Bringing the Boys Home

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From the LA Times:

Iraq Contingent May Grow if Attacks Persist, Pace Says

From Bloomberg:

Joint Chiefs Leader Says Iraqi Forces Will Replace U.S. Troops

Both refer to this Fox News interview with Gen. Peter Pace, who talked with Chris Wallace yesterday.

What's it gonna be? My money's on what Jonathan Rauch said on Reason Online earlier this month after talking with Ohio State political scientist and occasional Reason contributor John Mueller:

by spring, if not earlier, Bush will announce that progress in Iraq allows U.S. forces to start coming home. He will say that an American drawdown is the best way to help the Iraqis stand on their own. He will argue, much as he did with his tax cuts, that whatever pace he sets is precisely the right pace, and that withdrawing any faster or slower would be the height of irresponsibility. He may also say that withdrawing is "not a formula for getting out of [the region], but one that provided the only sound basis for America's staying in and continuing to play a responsible role."

Those were the words of Richard Nixon, who, somewhere, is wanly smiling.

Rauch's whole argument on "why the pullout has begun" (whether Bush realizes it or not) here.

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  1. If he needs help with the exit strategy, I understand that some of America’s finest have been working on one:

    http://www.theonion.com/content/node/43693

  2. Not to forget that if he pulls troops out of Iraq and it turns out mildly successful (meaning the government stands democratically or something close to it), then he can claim a victory right before the Congressional elections. Doing so, he’ll thank the members that remained resolute and assist them for re-election. No doubt he’ll remind those members of his efforts and strategy throughout his final 2 years in office.

    However, I don’t think he can get out that cleanly. I do think, though, it was this political strategy driving his timetable.

  3. “He will say that an American drawdown is the best way to help the Iraqis stand on their own. He will argue, much as he did with his tax cuts, that whatever pace he sets is precisely the right pace…”

    Wow, this article makes some good points. Here I thought Bush would argue that the pace he sets is too fast, and probably the wrong way to help the Iraqis stand on their own!

  4. “Wow, this article makes some good points. Here I thought Bush would argue that the pace he sets is too fast, and probably the wrong way to help the Iraqis stand on their own!”

    possibly the best bit of sarcasim I have seen on this board…my hats off to ya josh.

  5. I think the point is that once the decision to come home is announced, he will not accept input from Congress or the generals or other people. He won’t announce the general decision to come home and then come up with the precise timing based on input. He’ll set very narrow parameters at the same time that he announces the plan. This way he can make it seem like everything is going precisely according to whatever plan he’s had all along.

  6. “This way he can make it seem like everything is going precisely according to whatever plan he’s had all along.”

    Oh I see so he plans on withdrawl meets the criteria for withdrawl then plans how that withdrawl will go then exicutes that withdrawl as planned…all to fool us into thinking that this was a planned withdrawl.

  7. So… our work is done? Now we can get back to that other thing… geez, what the hell was it… uhhh, give me a minute here.. oh yeah, catching Bin Laden?

  8. joshua-

    It’s not a matter of whether or not anything was actually planned or not. What matters is that they will declare that a corner was turned, and that will be that.

    SPD-

    Osama bin who, again?

  9. “What matters is that they will declare that a corner was turned, and that will be that.”

    yeah yours is not nearly as sharply witted as mine was…plus yours is wrong

  10. SPD-

    I sure as hell hope so. I don’t really enjoy the idea of running around Iraq waiting to get blown to bits by a roadside bomb. I’d much rather go find Osama or run amuck on some Al-Quaeda camps around the globe. Marines are best used on the offensive, not randomly running around in the streets waiting to pick a fight (hrmmmm, seems reminiscent of Vietnam eh?).

    thoreau:
    Where did it say he didn’t get input from anybody about the withdrawl? Not to say he isn’t looking to time this for the most political impact. But why do you think he sat in a clean-room someplace and just started drawing up a withdrawl plan using crayons on the back of a napkin?

    Anyhow, whatever his motivation he’s already late, and mismanaged this war from start to finish. Lets just hope he can get the return home done right.

  11. io is right, thoreau. You know Karl Rove told W it’s time to talk about withdrawal.

    Of course, that’s the only input that matters to the prez.

  12. io-

    Oh, I’m sure he’s getting input right now. But once he makes the decision I predict that he will try to portray his decision as beyond any modification. This administration loves telling us that we’ll be attacked if we don’t let them do what they want. And they don’t want to give the impression that they have any doubts about Iraq. So once the decision to leave is made, they will insist on a particular pace for the withdrawal and insist that this pace is all part of the Big Plan and has been from the start. Corners have been turned, throes are being finalized, and we’ll leave a certain number of people to fight them in Mosul so we don’t have to fight them in Memphis. Just as we planned all along, and everything is fine.

    If somebody wants a faster withdrawal he’ll be accused of wanting to cut and run rather than defend our country. If somebody wants a slower withdrawal he’ll be accused of pessimism, and doubting the progress made by Our Troops.

    Just my prediction.

  13. I shall be forever grateful to the VN War for making me the lovable cynic I am today, hero, if not love interest, to Jennifer and a host of others. (A little damaged by Agent Orange, but, what the hell.)
    Those of you too timid to voice your misgivings about developments in Iraq may want to recall that I was the projector of the movie, Barbarella, starring Jane Fonda, when I was in Danang, VN, in 1969. (Yes, we viewers all knew she was sucking up to Ho Chi Minh, even then.)
    My point is that, even if you’re getting your ass shot at, reality is reality.
    Losing VN was potentially far more traumatizing to troops “over there” then than “losing” Iraq is to our troops in Iraq. In VN, the enemy was pretty clearly North VN, while in Iraq, the US is the enemy… sort of like the country music song, “I Am My Own Grandpa.”

  14. The thing is, who is he suppose to listen to? About the only people I’d give two-shits what their opinions were, are the generals and commanding officers on the ground in Iraq. Add in a healthy does of public sentiment (if such a thing can truly be gauged) and you have your answer about withdrawel.

    I’m sure the Bush administration will get all out of shape and make grandstanding claims if they are doubted on their timetable. That much is a given and shows a certain lack of tact from the administration. But do you honestly expect Bush should sit down and rethink the whole plan every time a bunch of soccer moms make stink and their rep trash talks the plan on the floor of the house? Or every time an armchair general somewhere in the US says the plan is flawed? Or every time…

    You get the point.

    I say if you start a war, let the war figthers do their jobs. Its a huge thing to turn over all that power and responsibility, but then again going to war is a huge thing not to take lightly. Once the war is on the politicians shouldn’t be doing anything more than gauging if there is enough public support left to keep the war up. If not, 100% withdrawl. If so, let the generals blow the fuck out of things until they are satisfied. Making some BS timetable based on any other opinions is just politcal manuvering at its worst.

  15. When should we expect them to take the “Mission Accomplished” banner out of storage?

  16. “I say if you start a war, let the war figthers do their jobs.”

    io1029,
    The trouble is that Bush’s war is too broadly defined. The War on Terror is like the War on Drugs.
    Bush has “defined” a war into existence. It needs to be defined back out of existence.

  17. A little OT, but does anyone else remember this golder oldie:

    “Iraq is a country full of secular, educated, middle class people, who aren’t prone to religious extremism. So regime change is a safe bet there, because there’s very little chance that Islamists will come to power in the aftermath.”

    Memories…in the corners of my mind…

  18. But do you honestly expect Bush should sit down and rethink the whole plan every time a bunch of soccer moms make stink and their rep trash talks the plan on the floor of the house? Or every time an armchair general somewhere in the US says the plan is flawed? Or every time…

    No, but the people at the top of the administration have a habit of ignoring generals, diplomats, and other experts. Not to mention the Congress.

    I’m not saying that the plan should be altered in response to Congressman Blow Hard (D,R-BFE). But if it should turn out that the insular clique at the top has made a decision that a significant number of other experts worry about, they’ll either be accused of (1) wanting to cut and run or (2) not having any confidence in the excellent progress made by Our Troops.

    I don’t know what the right pace of withdrawal is. What I fear, however, is that the decision will be made by people who think the phrase “reality based” is a slur. And that they will portray their decision as so manifestly perfect and beyond reproach that anybody who disagrees is completely beyond the pale. “Don’t you know that the corner has been turned, the mission accomplished, and the throes are final?” Or “We have to keep fighting them in Basra so we don’t have to fight them in Bethesda.”

  19. “No, but the people at the top of the administration have a habit of ignoring generals, diplomats, and other experts. Not to mention the Congress.”

    Meh. You can always find an “expert” to support either side of an argument. Generals always want more troops. They’d really rather not fight at all, which I suppose is a good trait in a Democracy.

    Didn’t South Vietnam succumb after we cut off the money? Is that likely to happen in Iraq?

  20. bubba, “Is that likely to happen in Iraq?”

    Well, that’s the $100,000 question, in’nt it?

    If the insurgents in Iraq have the level of popular support that the Communists had in Vietnam, the Iraqi government will surely fall to them, and any amount of money, fire, and lives we pour into the breach will only delay that, as they did in Vietnam.

    If they do not, then our presence is not necessary to keep the the Iraqi government from succumbing.

    If they do not, but our occupation increases support for the anti-occupaiton insurgency, then our continued presence will actually make it more likely that the government will fall after we eventually leave.

    This is not a unique problem in history. Every empire has faced it. Look at the Europeans in Africa. An imperial occupier can keep prop up a local regime it supports indefinitely, but it can’t create a genuine base of support among the local population. What it can do is thoroughly discredit that regime as collaborators in the eyes of its countrymen.

  21. “If they do not, then our presence is not necessary to keep the the Iraqi government from succumbing.”

    yeah cuz it is impossible for a minority to gain power over the wishes of the majority…oh wait.

  22. “An imperial occupier can keep prop up a local regime it supports indefinitely, but it can’t create a genuine base of support among the local population.”

    The $100,000 for bubba and others is: How the hell can Iraq ever be a beacon of Democracy or whatever other bullshit Bush allegedly has in his Rosy Scenario “vision.”

  23. joshua, of course it is possible for a minority to subjugate a nation, but it requires some external assistance that gives that minority military and political superiority.

    Take your implied example of Sunni domination in Iraq; that took decades of British impositions, followed by decades of Soviet support for the government, followed by years of American support for the government.

    The people fighting with IEDs and and suicide bombs don’t have anything like that.

  24. And, of course, before that, it took the support of surrounding Sunni rulers, whether Arabian or Turkish.

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