October 14, 2006

Leaving Iraq. The Tulip or the Star?

I was unable to post this earlier for some reason, so am trying again. The basic situation here is that, like Rusty, I'm not sure what comes next. Rusty asks:

So, is leaving the answer? Or is there something else we should be doing?

Possibly both?

I think we have to leave for two reasons. One is that we ultimately have to draw-down until we disappear, so that the credit and legitimacy associated with victory over the Islamofascist insurgency in Iraq accrues to the new government. They need it, just as all newly formed governments need legitimacy. The other reason is that we now have other materializing challenges.

Note: I'm assuming that far from the MSM's conclusion that we're losing and that Iraq is a quagmire, we've essentially won. Barring some miracle the Sunni version of Islamofascism will be ejected, eventually. They're at a strategic disadvantage, and judging from their own communiques they know it.

But that leaves us with a dilemma.

Since I'm a bicycle enthusiast I've chosen to illustrate the dilemma as analogous to Lance Armstrong's choice of whether, and how, to allow Marco Pantani the win on the Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France in 2002. Armstrong's "big idea" was that by making a magnanimous gesture he'd create a strategic ally in his overall effort to win the Tour. But it didn't work out that way. The problem was that he didn't pull up soon enough, so Pantani (and more importantly Pantani's fans) knew that the victory had been gifted. Had Armstrong been more clever he'd have made the arrangement far less obvious, and still have won Pantani as an ally.

So, borrowing from this analogy we need to leave early enough that any final victories won't be attributed to the US. That's the bitter pill we must swallow in service of a larger goal.

I think the best way for us to accomplish this tricky transition, without sacrificing our own reputation and appearing weak (which would help Islamofascist recruitment like nothing else), is to simply move on to another military mission, or at least clear the decks so that we can be ready should we need to act. We can rightly say that we didn't leave because we were defeated, but because we had pressing concerns somewhere else. The draw-down probably should be gradual, but still faster than would have seemed prudent a few months ago. Maybe the Baker Commission will give us some cover?

And where should the next engagement be? The tulip or the star?

Tear it up.

By Demosophist at 12:03 PM | Comments |