In his column today David Brooks makes an argument different than the one I’ve been making for why neither a Hillary Clinton Administration nor a Barack Obama Administration will come through on the fan dance the candidates have been doing on withdrawing our forces from Iraq:
There would be private but powerful opposition from Arab leaders, who would fear a return to 2006 chaos. There would be irate opposition from important sections of the military, who would feel that the U.S. was squandering the gains of the previous year. A Democratic president with few military credentials would confront outraged and highly photogenic colonels screaming betrayal.
There would be important criticism from nonpartisan military experts. In his latest report, the much-cited Anthony Cordesman describes an improving Iraqi security situation that still requires “strategic patience” and another five years to become self-sustaining.
There would be furious opposition from Republicans and many independents. They would argue that you can’t evacuate troops just as Iraqis are about to hold national elections and tensions are at their highest. They would point out that it’s insanity to end local reconstruction and Iraqi training efforts just when they are producing results. They would accuse the new administration of reverse-Rumsfeldism, of ignoring postsurge realities and of imposing an ideological solution on a complex situation.
This is, basically, an argument that it doesn’t make political sense for either president to withdraw our forces from Iraq.
He also makes an even more interesting point, namely that the present Democratic policy unity is a will o’ the wisp:
But when you think about it, the Democratic policy unity is a mirage. If the Democrats actually win the White House, the tensions would resurface with a vengeance.
I think that’s truer than he intends. Not all Democrats are Kos Kids nor progressives. Right now Democrats are unified in their opposition to George W. Bush. The plain truth is that he won’t be running in 2008 (even though I continue to believe that everybody will be campaigning against him) and, come February 2009, we won’t have GWB to kick around any more.