So it looks like the withdrawal talk is going mainstream, or at least as mainstream as Fred Kaplan in Slate, who is generally supportive of getting American troops the hell out of Iraq.
Kaplan raises the interesting possibility that Prime Minister al-Jafaari has been thwarting attempts to train an Iraqi security force precisely because the U.S. has said it will stick around until such a force is viable, and he doesn’t want us to leave because he fears being toppled by Sunni revanchists. So goes the rumor in Baghdad, anyway, according to Kaplan. In response, he argues, we ought to put the fear into al-Jafaari by giving him a timetable for withdrawal.
Then one of two things will happen. Either the Iraqi security forces will start coming together, in which case we could leave by mid-2007; or else the Iraqi security forces will remain a hopeless disaster, in which case there would be no reason for our troops to stick around because the war would be unwinnable, so we could leave by mid-2007.
I’m amazed by how fast this sort of thinking has been taking hold. Not that it’s bad or wrong thinking, but it goes against the platitudes of the 2004 election about staying the course. But I guess everyone wants an exit strategy, and no one wants to prolong this fiasco.
Personally, I think it’d probably be good for us to get the hell out of Iraq. If things go badly enough once we’re gone, we can always reinvade and topple the latest government in Baghdad. That’s the sort of thing we’re good at. In the meantime, the rest of the world, including Iran and North Korea, would have to take note of the fact that we would once again have our whole military available to fling at whoever pisses us off. And while I have no desire to see us at war with either of those countries, it would be good if our enemies at least had to fear that a full-scale invasion is plausible.