Monday, January 29, 2007

Now that's what I'm talking about

Crossposted from This Space Reserved
Thank you Mimikatz over at The Next Hurrah!

Finally somebody is posting on what I think the most important issues are concerning Iraq.

I posted on the WoodCoDems site some time ago that maybe we (as a country perhaps but maybe as a Democratic Party) should be talking in terms of WHAT Iraq would/will look like AFTER WE LEAVE. And of course, I mean after we leave under the real circumstances, NOT the NeverLand crap that Bush says will happen if we only give him "one more last chance. "(Yes. Yes, I believe that was the title of a crappy country-western song.)

Let's get to Mimikatz's post before this turns into an uncontrollable rant.... Of course, you're free to click on the link and read the whole article but I'll give a blow-by-blow here.

Mimikatz starts out with the question we're all asking. That is, can the doomsday prophesies of Bush and Cheney about what will happen in Iraq if we pull out be true? I'll have to admit, it's been nagging at me too if, for no other reason, than because there has been such a dirth of information or informed commentary on the likely nature of Iraq after a U.S. withdrawal. But Mimikatz comes up with a couple of sources...The first by General William Odom in his prepared remarks to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which were aptly entitled:
Strategic Errors of Monumental Proportions

What Can Be Done in Iraq? Anybody want to guess how I really feel about this?After a lengthy preamble describing how we got into this sorry state, Odom says this:

It cannot as long as fails to revise its war aims. Wise leaders in war have many times admitted that their war aims are misguided and then revised them to deal with realities beyond their control. Such leaders make tactical withdrawals, regroup, and revise their aims, and design new strategies to pursue them. Those who cannot make such adjustments eventually face defeat.

Here's a key point:

Since the 1950's, the US aim in this region has been "regional stability" above all others. The strategy for achieving this aim of every administration until the present one has been maintaining a regional balance of power among three regional forces – Arabs, Israelis, and Iranians.

and finally this:

Any new strategy that does realistically promise to achieve regional stability at a cost we can prudently bear, and does not regain the confidence and support of our allies, is doomed to failure. To date, I have seen no awareness that any political leader in this country has gone beyond tactical proposals to offer a different strategic approach to limiting the damage in a war that is turning out to be the greatest strategic disaster in our history.

Got that now? We need to think in terms other than "Good vs Evil" or "Global War on Terror". We need to think in time-tested, successful REGIONAL DIPLOMACY TERMS.

Now, if you've read the other post you know that I've chosen to emphasize something different than Minikatz. Mini (sorry for the nickname) thought a key of Odom's presentation was that the government needed to be strong enough to tax and in all fairness to Odom, he makes a good case for it but in terms of what US policy should be, I think the above quotes are pretty much "spot-on".But there's a second source....actaully a SET of sources gathered by today's San Francisco Chronicle.

For a variety of reasons most of the experts don't see much to the "nightmare scenarios" being proffered by Presidnent Bush and Vice-President Cheney. As General Odom surmised, the experts gathered by the Chronicle agree that the likelihood of instability decreasing as opposed to increasing is most likely for the region if the US withdraws its troops. (Again, I ask you to read the posts to get the details) But there are other scenarios and considerations...take this one for example:

In Iraq, Mueller said, "The most likely scenario, and it's still a fairly bad one, is that the other countries would contain Iraq and there would be a civil war that would gradually work its way out. The idea of it spreading throughout the Middle East and all over the world strikes me as a considerable stretch. Not that it's impossible. But the best analogy would be the long civil war in Lebanon. Other countries meddled in various ways, but they also kept it there, as much as possible

One-by-one the panalists shoot down the "regional conflict" idea and, most importantly, they analyze the possibilities as well as the probabilities that each of the other actors (Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Turkey) would or could get involved in Iraq if we withdraw.

What I think I like best about the Chronicle piece is that quite rightly states that little has been written about the realistic possibilities and options available to us in Iraq. Read this and comment if you like...

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