Frederick W. Kagan mounts a spirited defense of maintaining our troop commitment to Iraq, presumably part of the battlefield preparation for Gen. Petraeus’s upcoming testimony in Washington. The article is long and detailed—he takes on more than a dozen of the arguments of the immediate withdrawalniks and answers them in turn. Unfortunately, I think it’s a waste of pixels.
Will anyone be convinced? I believe that practically everybody has already made up their minds and at this point relatively few will respond to even the most articulate, soundest, and well-founded arguments. It is now a religious dispute.
Fortunately, it doesn’t look as though any prospective president will withdraw our forces completely from Iraq. No candidate is running on that platform (note in statements the words combat brigades, a little over half of our forces in Iraq) and I doubt that any sitting president will be willing to run the risk of withdrawing from Iraq and having things go seriously awry.
If you take the idea that a president will withdraw our troops from Iraq and re-insert them if circumstances warrant seriously, try this exercise. Imagine you’re the president of the United States. Imagine you’ve withdrawn our forces from Iraq. Now imagine you’re standing at a podium preparing to announce that you’re going to send our forces back to Iraq. I can’t imagine myself doing that and I don’t think any prospective president can, either. The questions practically ask themselves. Were you wrong then or are you wrong now? leaps to mind.