Arguing in Circles

Via Brian Beutler, Reuel Marc Gerecht wonders: "Do thoughtful Democrats really believe that the Middle East, America's long fight against Sunni jihadism, and our standing in the world against potential aggressors and bullies will be improved by a precipitous and mandated departure from Mesopotamia?" I was tempted initially to give this a defiant yes, I do! but the truth is that I don't, of course, think a "precipitous" departure from Mesopotamia is a good idea. Were the country run by reasonable people, I would think something like this would happen:

  • President informs Pentagon that we need to withdraw our troops from Iraq, and they need to study the question of what's the best way to do this quickly but safely.

  • Based on the feedback POTUS gets about what's feasible to do in a safe manner, he picks a target date.

  • With a provisional date chosen, POTUS shares his thinking with key partners in the British and Iraqi governments, and concedes to minor alterations in the schedule if said partners have strong feelings about the desirability of small changes.

  • The plan is announced at some public gathering with representatives of the Iraq, American, British, and other coalition governments.

The trouble is that the country isn't being run by sensible people so the sensible thing can't happen. Instead, since we have some sensible people in congress, they're trying to do what congress can do. Congressional Iraq plans, meanwhile, have an air of arbitrariness about them since congress isn't staffed properly to assess the relevant operational issues. And the administration won't let the military do any planning for withdrawal. So, naturally, Democrats are left with non-optimal proposals to put forward. And this is then used as a reason to support the very administration whose terrible policy are forcing us into this corner in the first place.