The Iraq Debate

A reader writes:

Your dissenter wrote:

"I am certain that a hasty and dangerous withdrawal is more likely under an Obama or a Paul presidency than a McCain one.  And so I must back the senior Senator from Arizona."

Perhaps this is true, but so far Iraqi politicians have done nothing with the lull in violence.  Instead, it appears to have bolstered their ill-founded faith in the US' ability to restore order if things get out of hand. They're behaving like an investor taking on more and more risk for their faction (being aggressive in their demands) under the idea that if there's a serious reversal (anarchic violence) that the government (us) will bail them out. An impending Paul or Obama presidency would make it clear that we're not going to wait for one side or another to gain ascendancy before leaving them to sleep in their own bed.  We owe Iraq a lot for our past mistakes, but in this case I don’t see anything else to do but to take a tough-love stance.

No one is explicitly arguing that we should occupy Iraq for ever. But that is the obvious inference from our current strategy if nothing is done to shake it up. The next president will be trying to get out, whoever he or she is. The question is: who will be best at marshalling the diplomatic energy, the military nuances and the political unity required to pull it off as quickly and as prudently as possible? I'm not sure that McCain, for all his many virtues, will ever be able to persuade the Iraqis to kiss and make up. He's an insurance policy for their continuing to fight.