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November 21, 2005

On Withdrawal

Brian, over at his excellent (but unpronounceable) new blog, has a good post on last week's Iraq debate.  For those who didn't read it, I squared off with TNR's Adam Kushner on the subject of withdrawal, which I support and he opposes.  The exchange finished on Friday, and now Brian's entering the fray.  Sigh.  Suckas just always gotta step.

The conflict, as it exists now iooks much more like a job for
an extremely muscular peace-keeping body. Much more muscular than, say,
NATO of the UN has ever offered. The growing numbers of dead Iraqis is
a gruesome testament to that, and to the obvious fact that, as Ezra
points out and as Adam shockingly tries to refute, we're not making
things any better anymore. Sorry Adam. This is as progressive as things
are going to get there without a drastic revision to our strategy.[...]
And even if we pull back and nothing changes, or things don't improve enough, or, God forbid, things get worse,
THEN we can get serious about an international action. A real one. And
perhaps, at last, the casualties and the financial and moral cost of
this travesty won't rest entirely on us.

Oh.  Well that's a very good point.  If withdrawal left the region a seething cauldron of internal strife, that'd prove a reality the international community would be compelled to deal with, if for no other reason than regional stability.  It'd be our fault, sure, but everyone's responsibility.  And once we'd attempted an evacuation, there'd no longer be the excuse that our presence is the problem and our absence the simple solution.  Right now, that's a viable hypothesis, as it'll force the Iraqis to stop relying on Americans for their fighting and peacekeeping and begin dealing with each other in a realistic context.  Shi'ites don't want a civil war, Sunnis know they can't win one.  As of now, both sides realize Americans won't let it get out of hand.  If we remove the backup, however, that comfort disappears, and the actors need to choose between a future they know to be hell and a reconciliation they know will be unpleasant.  Forcing them to make that choice will clrafiy the next step considerably.

November 21, 2005 | Permalink

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If withdrawal left the region a seething cauldron of internal strife, that'd prove a reality the international community would be compelled to deal with

Maybe, but I wouldn't underestimate the ability of the international community to ignore dark-skinned people who are killing each other.

Posted by: Brad Plumer | Nov 21, 2005 12:42:21 PM

The is great because it addresses the actual consequences of withdrawal, not just the made up ones that use words like "embolden."

Inherent in this post is a theme that has caused me to still be on the fence about an immediate withdrawal (as opposed to my current position which is to simply lay out the mutha f'n extraction plan with achievable, set goals.) And its that while we know our presence is causing much resentment and attacks, that some are simply assuming that if we withdraw, things won't get considerably worse as to force our hand back into the conflict at a later date. My gut feeling is to listen to the people who have an ear for this region. People like Fareed Zakaria for example. The people who told us before we went in that there would be armed conflict between the religious factions without an iron fist. I'm entirely not sure what Mr. Zakaria believes on withdrawal, but if I'm not mistaken he is of the position that a complete withdrawal in the literal tomorrow will lead to really bad things. Contrary to the belief of some commentors here, this happens to be the position of most Democrats right now as well.

Posted by: Adrock | Nov 21, 2005 12:48:07 PM

Shi'ites don't want a civil war, Sunnis know they can't win one. As of now, both sides realize Americans won't let it get out of hand. If we remove the backup, however, that comfort disappears, and the actors need to choose between a future they know to be hell and a reconciliation they know will be unpleasant. Forcing them to make that choice will clrafiy the next step considerably.

Great speculation....and that is all it is. You have no way of knowing WHAT will happen. You expect the same people that do irrational acts in the name of their religion to act rationally in a conflict that breaks along these same religious lines.

Good luck with that!

Posted by: Fred Jones | Nov 21, 2005 4:31:57 PM

this was an unfortunate boo-boo from Kushner: "Incidentally, Iraqi’s do not 'want us to vacate their premises,' as they have asked us repeatedly to stay."

Too bad you didn't have another chance to take a swing at that underhand lob ...

Posted by: praktike | Nov 21, 2005 11:58:38 PM

Unpronounceable? Hah! It is to laugh:

PO-lit-e-cal diz-PEP-see-a

Posted by: Randinho | Nov 22, 2005 8:04:45 PM

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