Thursday, March 27, 2008

memo to people i talk to in daily life 

If I run into another well-intentioned American who tells me we can't leave Iraq because the resultant chaos will be bad for the Iraqis, I'm going to put a gun in my mouth.

NO ONE, not even the most 'Troops Out Now' shouting dreadlocked pinko is advocating we just pull up stakes and airlift all the GI's out in the next 24 hours. One of the "good" things about the current situation is that there's still some minimal room to leave voluntarily and strategically before we're driven out Vietnam-style. As Spencer puts it:

Withdrawing without any political strategy, as the British did from Basra, leads to a vacuum like the one we're seeing now. Sadr rushes in. The Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq rushes in. The Fadhila party maneuvers between the two. Forces ostensibly loyal to the government, pinioned between all sides, find ways to accommodate the existing power on the streets. In other words: chaos.

So to avoid chaos -- and I recognize this is banal and generic -- you can't just pull up stakes. Some sort of political accommodation has to occur alongside a strategy of extrication. There will be some good suggestions coming out of various think tanks and government offices over the next several months that put flesh to bone here. But the broader point is this: if we decide we're just going to order the post-surge forces out of Iraq in X number of months/years, and nothing accompanies that decision on the political-diplomatic end, then yeah, Basra probably will be a prologue. But if we spend the time between now and then -- say, a new Democratic president's Inaugural -- working on some Undefined Diplomatic Strategy, then we have our best shot -- and it's not a sure shot; I'll be the first to admit -- at extracting ourselves with a minimum of chaos.

Now, this is true unless, like Sen. John McCain and President George W. Bush, you believe we should stay in Iraq forever. But if you don't, then you indeed have to grapple with this conundrum. There are no guarantees. There are no good answers. There are no grounds for certainty. That's what makes it a quagmire. But you don't have the luxury of throwing your hands up in despair and pleading that complexity should bring apoplexy. That's why it's called statesmanship.

And that is precisely what is meant by "Troops Out Now".

Now obviously, as Spencer elaborates upon elsewhere, Bush/McCain driven foreign-policy has zero intention of leaving. Ever.

But anyone advocating that we don't get the fuck out immediately is playing into their hands. To the extent that you buy the "argument" that leaving is worse (for Iraqis) than staying, you're siding with the forces that will pressure an Obama or Hillary presidency to stay in Iraq and taking away from any forces that will pressure them to leave. You are participating in the war effort. You're not being realistic. You're not being humane. You're not being 'serious' or 'reasonable'. You're being played for a sucker. Again. Cut it out.


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