There are two articles today which confirm my belief that the U. S. is now committed to withdrawing from Iraq, regardless of consequences. The first article is by George Will. In the article he proposes four questions as a guide to withdrawing from Iraq:
- What are 140,000 U.S. forces achieving in Iraq that could not be achieved by 40,000?
- If the answer to the first question is “creating Iraqi security forces,” a second question is: Is there an Iraqi government?
- what limits on U.S. aims are set by the character of the Iraqi people, as we now understand that?
- Hence, a fourth question: In a perhaps intentionally opaque statement on “The Charlie Rose Show” on Oct. 6, Baker said: “If we are able to promote representative — representative government, not necessarily democracy, in a number of nations in the Middle East and bring more freedom to the people of that part of the world, [Iraq] will have been a success.” Can President Bush’s “freedom agenda,” which Iraq has shredded, be recast by the Study Group’s showing that there is more than semantic sleight of hand in the distinction between democracy and representation?
Perhaps I’m being obtuse or unkind but I can’t see a smidgeon of consideration of U. S. interests in Mr. Will’s column. I can, however, see more than a smidgeon of a consideration of the political fortunes of Republican legislators.
The second column is by Robert Kaplan in the Atlantic Online (get it while it’s hot). In this article Mr. Kaplan does consider American interests and arrives at the conclusion that just withdrawing isn’t enough. He proposes serious negotations with Syria and Iran and a regional conference.
The article contains a good, succinct statement of my own views:
An emerging school of thought says that the only real leverage we’re going to have is the threat of withdrawal, which would concentrate the minds of the various groups to seek modalities with each other for governing the country. That’s a bet, not a plan. You could also bet that any timetable for withdrawal will lead to a meltdown of the Iraq Army according to region and sect. Even if we promise that all of our military advisors will stay put, in addition to our air and special operations assets, no one in a culture of rumor and conspiracy theory might believe us.
Will we have more or less ability to influence events if we withdraw our troops from Iraq?
Both articles deserve your consideration.