Iraq Forever

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Can't say it's much of a surprise that despite all the Friedman Units and talk of victory and how Iraq won't really play in the 2008 campaign that four years after the 2008 campaign there'll be the 2012 campaign. And four years after that comes the 2016 campaign. And two years after that comes 2018 when Iraqi officials say it might be possible for American troops to leave. My then you'll have 20 year-olds serving in Iraq who were five when the war started. But a couple of key phrases from The New York Times's account:

Those comments from the minister, Abdul Qadir, were among the most specific public projections of a timeline for the American commitment in Iraq by officials in either Washington or Baghdad. And they suggested a longer commitment than either government had previously indicated.

Pentagon officials expressed no surprise at Mr. Qadir’s projections, which were even less optimistic than those he made last year.

One, if the surge is working so well, why is it that Mr. Qadir's projections are getting less optimistic? Answer -- maybe the surge isn't working so well and maybe this Upright Citizens Brigade strategy doesn't contain the seeds of any kind of stable equilibrium for Iraq. Two, why is it that officials "expressed no surprise" at projections that "suggested a longer commitment than either government had previously indicated"? Answer -- both governments have not been indicating things accurately. They've been misleading.

This is, in my view, the key to breaking the political deadlock over Iraq in the United States. A large number of people agree with my preference for an expeditious withdrawal from Iraq. Unfortunately, though, it's not a majority of people. But the number of people who favor the sort of decade-plus engagement that constitutes the actual alternative to expeditious withdrawal is incredibly small. What's needed, however, are political leaders who are willing and able to re-enforce the point that's been revealed again and again by American reporters -- the alternative to leaving is staying for a very, very, very long time.

U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Jonathan Snyder

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Matthew Yglesias is a former writer and editor at The Atlantic.

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