Whatever small chance the Iraqi people had that the United States wouldn’t abandon them to the tender mercies of al-Qaeda and the sectarian thugs who are wandering the country drilling holes in their victim’s heads is disappearing as fast as you can say the word “bi-partisanship:”
The Bush administration and the new Democratic leadership in Congress are looking for the bipartisan Iraq Study Group to provide realistic recommendations and political protection against criticism if the U.S. military mission falls short of original expectations.
The commissionâ€™s discussions are said to be focused on an option presented by a panel of experts that the United States concede that the situation in Iraq cannot be stabilized and make plans for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops.
I wrote this all the way back in September about the Iraq Study Group:
In other words, no â€œcut and runâ€ but rather the slow, inexorable drawdown of US forces whose exit will not so much reflect the ability of the Iraqi government to defend itself from internal enemies but rather how the pull out will be perceived by the rest of the world â€“ including how it will play domestically.
Cut and run â€“ even if itâ€™s done slowly â€“ is still cut and run.
The immorality of this strategy is shocking in its implications. The foreign policy elites have apparently decided that the war is unwinnable but that it would harm American interests if we simply up and left. Therefore, they are going to ask young American men and women to risk their lives not for victory, butâ€¦for what? To save face? To keep politicians from looking bad? To fool the American people?
In fact, any exit from Iraq that doesnâ€™t leave a stable government capable of maintaining a modicum of peace on the streets would be seen by the entire world as a crushing defeat for the United States. How we get there by â€œextricatingâ€ ourselves is a fairy tale Iâ€™m dying to hear.
Hinderaker at Powerline has it just about right:
Iraq “cannot be stabilized”? That strikes me as a ridiculous statement. One can legitimately ask whether Iraq can be stabilized at acceptable political, military or financial cost. But that would require some hard analysis of what the stakes are and what those costs may be. Notwithstanding the results of Tuesday’s election, I think the American people are adult enough for such a discussion.
The key to the “Baker Plan” will be to engage Iran and Syria and coax them into stopping their support for al-Qaeda and the insurgents. The mullahs are having a good laugh at that one. I’m sure they’ll be impressed by our entreaties to halt their nuclear program given our demonstrated resolve to keep our word to the Iraqi people. And Baby Assad is rubbing his hands together in anticipation at what goodies he can extract from the American dupes who show up on his doorstep, hat in hand, begging him to pull our chestnuts out of the fire in Iraq.
I have been in favor of engaging both Iran and Syria in diplomacy – but with Iraq as an ancillary issue. I would have thought that the fate of the Iraqi people and government was not a matter open to negotiation.
Welcome to the new world of “real” politik.
Negotiating with Syria especially opens up intriguing possibilities. Driving a wedge between Assad and the Iranians (if it were possible without sacrificing Israeli security) would isolate Iran and perhaps even improve the prospects for an Israeli-Syrian dialogue. Hinderaker correctly points out that pressuring Israel to give up the Golan Heights in some kind of scheme to entice Assad to halt his support for Iraqi insurgents would be stupid. But John fails to note that the Golan has lost some of its strategic value to Israel. Those rockets from Hezbollah flew over the Golan Heights during the war. Occupation of the Golan is no longer a guarantee against Israel being attacked from that quarter and if other security guarantees could be given to Israel regarding the Heights, it may be possible for the US to act as an honest broker in negotiations that would lead to their return to Syria.
In that context, both Syria and Israel would benefit and we would have Assad’s help in tamping down violence in Iraq. And there wouldn’t be a thing the mullahs in Iran could do about it.
As for Ahmadinejad and his nukes, direct negotiations are inevitable. Get used to the idea. The diplomatic dance – fruitless as it almost assuredly will be – is a rite of foreign policy elites the world over. The fact that nothing will be accomplished isn’t the point. It is the dance itself for its own sake that will engage the interest of the self deluded peacemakers who will talk and talk until there’s nothing left to talk about. And then we’ll find ourselves in exactly the same place we are today – will it be war with Iran or do we acquiesce and resign ourselves to them having nuclear weapons?
But to leave the nuclear issue to the side and beg the Iranians for help with Iraq will elicit a few giggles from the humorless fanatics in Tehran. They are bleeding their mortal enemy of blood and treasure. Why in God’s name should they stop? They have sworn to destroy us dozens of times since the revolution of 1979. Are we to suddenly believe that we can engage them in dialogue on Iraq toward the ends we desire when the whole ball of wax will probably fall into their lap anyway?
The Iranians don’t only want us defeated. They want the US humiliated. Any negotiations with the mullahs will be long, drawn out, and designed to show the world how powerless we are to affect events in the region. In the meantime, our soldiers will continue to die, the Iraqi government will continue to dither, and the body count of civilians will spiral upwards.
Phased withdrawal my ass. If we have decided to bug out, let’s leave as quickly as possible. If victory is not to be had at any price then it is immoral to keep our men and women in harms way simply to appease domestic sensibilities. Yes Iraq will devolve into madness and chaos. We can deal with that situation in the context of the War on Terror. Asking someone to put their life on the line for no reason save assuaging the consciences of politicians is stupid.
If we’re not going to stay until the situation is stabilized leave now. Leave as quickly as we went in. The Saudis, the Iranians and the Syrians all helped sow the wind. Now let them reap the whirlwind.