There’s an interesting discussion of our future actions in Iraq and the Middle East, generally, going on over at Winds of Change. It’s managed to stay fairly civil so far.
One of the things I’d like to see from people taking any position whatever in discussions of this sort is that they confront the most serious concerns of those with whom they disagree squarely. If you believe that we should withdraw our forces from Iraq immediately, accept the worst-case scenario predictions of those who want to stay, don’t dismiss them. If we leave, how can we mitigate the effects of dramatically increased violence in Iraq, ethnic cleansing, genocide, intervention by neighboring countries, etc.?
If you believe we should stay, how do we deal with loss of American repute in the world, overtaxing our military, not devoting enough resources to Afghanistan, and so on? Since I’m in that camp, I’ll deal with one of those issues. I think that the prospect of overtaxing our Army and Marines is a real one. We need to increase our the Army to at least Cold War levels to a size commensurate with the tasks we are asking them to undertake. And we should fund that increase in size with a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
Honestly, I don’t understand why the Bush Administration hasn’t been proposing such an increase all along. I don’t generally buy the claims of those who think that the Administration is exaggerating the threats we face as a scheme for extending executive power and keeping Republicans in office (it’s worked so well) but I think the strongest evidence for just such claims is the reluctance of the Administration to increase the size of the Army. If they were genuinely serious wouldn’t they have done so all along? I’m open to other explanations.
Michael Duffy at Time Online discusses withdrawal from Iraq. I’d have no gripe about a reduction to 80,000 or 100,000 if I thought it were tactically or politically sustainable. I’m not convinced.