There are two pieces today on how to withdraw from Iraq, one from The Center for American Progress, which envisions a complete removal of U. S. forces from Iraq over a period of ten months and one from Bing West in the Wall Street Journal, which sounds about right me:
We are withdrawing as conditions permit. For instance, in the infamous Triangle of Death south of Baghdad, Col. Dominic Caraccilo has spread his rifle companies across 22 police precincts. Over the next year, he plans to pull out two of every three companies, leaving the population protected by Iraqi forces, backed by a thin screen of American soldiers.
If implemented on a countrywide scale, this model would reduce the American presence from 15 to five brigades over the next few years. They can be comprised of artillerymen, motor transport and civil affairs as well as infantrymen. By calling these residual forces “Transition Teams,” we can remove the political argument in the U.S. about the exact number of combat brigades, and allow our commanders flexibility in adjusting force levels. This change of names rather than of missions is a way to save face and bring Americans closer together.
The problem is not American force levels in Iraq. It is divisiveness at home. While our military has adapted, our society has disconnected from its martial values. I was standing beside an Iraqi colonel one day in war-torn Fallujah when a tough Marine patrol walked by. “You Americans,” he said, “are the strongest tribe.”
I know that there are lots of sensible, well-informed people who believe that our troops in Iraq are an impediment to Iraq’s becoming a stable, secure state. I wish they’d explain to me how, when Iraqi politicians aren’t able to resolve their differences now, they would be better able to do so when our forces have been withdrawn. This sounds like wishful thinking to me or, possibly, the fallacious appeal to consequences.
Pardon me commenting all over the place here.
I think the “get out now” people are definitely guilty of wishful thinking. Fortunately, both US presidential candidates are realists at heart, so I suspect the same thing will happen regardless of who wins, and that outcome will resemble the WSJ’s description. Enough troops will be removed so that the Iraqis will feel less occupied and the American public less sunk in a morass. Enough will remain to bring the ISA up to strength and to put a damper on any outside invasion (however unlikely) or internal civil war (however likely). We will have significant combat units in place until sometime after 2012.