Has The Administration Lurched Into A Way Out Of Iraq?

He may not, but his party does. I don’t buy into this mythos that Bush “stands up for what he believes in.” I think, like all intellectually incurious people, he’s highly manipulable, to the degree that he can even be led to think he’s “standing up for what he believes in” by pulling out of Iraq. It’s almost more a question of what Rove et al. think is the best strategy – which may mean staying the course, or bailing. I personally think they’ll opt for the latter. I don’t see a small-scale drawdown as offering much benefit to anyone.

You could also see it as scape-goating to get out of an unpopular war during an election year. I’ve been predicting for nearly two years that the situation was going to go down the flusher and we were going to slink out and blame the Iraqis for it. If by 2010 the ‘official’ story isn’t ‘We tried our best to give them freedom but they were just too backwards and barbaric’, I will publicly apologize and kiss the rosy bottom of the first Bush supporter to bring it up.

Of course we’ll leave sufficient troops in place to guard the oil.

This is absurd. The consistent message from Republicans in the last election, was they were doing a better job protecting America, and would do a better job in the future. Iraq was a central theme in that message, and the biggest stick they used to beat on Democrats. Admitting they failed in Iraq would be the exact same as saying, “We suck, vote for the Democrats.” Bush, and the Republicans, would never, ever do that in a million years.

That doesn’t make sense. The war is very unpopular. The expedient thing to do would be cut and run, at least by the end of the year. But I’ll tell you what… give me some detail about how you think this is going to play out and then let’s place a little wager. You’re profoundly wrong if you don’t think Bush doesn’t believe in what he’s doing. It’s a false dichotomy that he can’t believe it in his heart of hearts and still exploit shamelessly for political purposes when it suits him.

You have to look at the theory that best explains the facts, and that theory is that Bush firmly believes he has set in motion a long term plan to reshape the Middle East. I’m jsut amazed at how many “we’re finally going to cut and run” predictions peopel are willing to buy into before they consider that cutting and running isn’t an option.

And if it doesn’t get better? If it NEVER gets better? If “quality” Iraqi troops turn out to be completely unreliable?

Have we turned the corner again? How many times has it been, now?

Then what, John? You seem to be quite certain that victory is the only possible outcome.


But is staying indefinitely an option? As I said before, Iraq has hit basically all the milestones that were used to justify continued American presence. Even people who were basically anti-war were saying, “We should at least stay until they elect a government.” Well, they had the election, and they’re putting the government together – with difficulty, of course, which is a symptom of the larger problem. But at this point our staying there seriously begs the question of what we’re waiting for. There has to be some metric that says, “Now we’re done, now we can come home.” Absent that metric, it feels like we’re staying just to be staying. Or are you arguing that Khalilzad is talking out of school, and that what he’s saying doesn’t reflect anyone’s view but his own?

And by the way, I’m not claiming that Bush doesn’t believe in what he’s doing. I would claim that he doesn’t know what it is he’s doing. Look at how the rationales for the war – each of which he has enunciated with apparent sincerity – have wiggled about over the last three years.

I don’t understand this post. What is the ‘bankbalance’. Also, the Bush administration has “(broken) faith with its support base” on almost a daily basis. The support base doesn’t seem to mind. Why would they start now?

How about if they can blame it on us?

Lucy! Hi!

Who do you mean by “us?” Do you mean you and me or do you mean leftist rabble rousers in general or do you mean something else?

If past history is a guide, they will blame the victims first. If it really comes right down to it, they will blame the Iraqis themselves as ungrateful, immature children who insisted on starting a war despite the best efforts and long suffering good will of the Neocons. If that doesn’t work, they’ll blame al Qaeda. If that doesn’t work they’ll blame Clinton.

Possibly we will begin to see more news accounts like this lead story in the 21 Feb. print edition of the Los Angeles Times. News releases of this type would prepare the public for the announcement that the Iraqi government can’t be trusted to form a government of ]i]all* the people and we just can’t support any other type. So goodbye.

As to the heads I win, tails you lost aspect, isn’t that the whole idea in having a low ranking official float the story of a possible future change in plans? Sort of a finger to the wind. If the idea is a dud the official can easily be punished by being slapped down and retired on full pension, if it isn’t a dud it can be developed further.

And yes, other posts have speculated on this idea, and my OP is also speculation. I thought that was clear from the way I framed the question. However, this is the first time that I know of that an Executive Depatrment official has talked about a possible withdrawal for any other reason than that we leave behind a stable Iraq with a functioning government having adequate security forces in place.

“See, Dick Whittington was supposed to announce himself before leaving the Green Zone, but he didn’t, so look what happened.”

It doesn’t have to get better. It just has to not get a lot worse. And remember, Bush’s term is up in less than 3 years. That may seem like a long time, but we’ve already spent that much time in Iraq as it is.

Nope. You’re reading too much into my post. Just because I think I can explain Bush’s motives doesn’t mean that I agree with them. In fact, I do not. Too many people on this board want so badly for Bush to admit that he made a mistake that they confuse their own desires with what is actually going to happen.

Highly unlikely. We’re still heavily invested in the ISF (Iraqi Security Forces), and are making some (though painfully slow) progress. We don’t have to defeat the insurgency to declare victory and leave, we just have to make sure that the ISF is sufficiently strong that the insurgency won’t defeat them.

But he’s not floating a policy initiative to the American people or Congress, he’s just tryign to play hardball with the sectarian forces trying to control the political landscape in Iraq.

This isn’t talk about withdrawl. It’s talk of holding back some support with, I suspect, the implication that the support will be given to others. Bush is not going to throw in the towel, even if that is the best thing to do. He’ll leave that option up to his successor.

What a grim prospect. Nearly three more years of this and then a couple while the successor figures out how to get out without appearing to have failed in following such a brilliant leader.

No wonder middle level army officers are leaving the service in large numbers.

That was an overly cynical post on my part, because I do think Bush believes he can create a stable Iraq, given enough time. But yes, it does leave open the distinct possibility that he’s wrong, and that his successor will have to clean up after him.

What they really need to do is capture Zarqawi, break up his jihadists, and cut a deal with the Sunni insurgents.

That’s the scent of victory, my friend! We’re winning, can’t you tell?


On the theory that a person cannot be cynical enough when confronting big power politics (and all must concede that big power politics is just what we have here), it seems to me that this is simple blather designed to pressure and manipulate the Iraqis into carrying the United States’ water. This Administration has too much prestige, credibility, blood and treasure invested in the vision of a stable Iraqi state and oil supply to walk away. There has been talk about permanent American bases in Iraq. We appear to be building an enormous self contained and self supporting embassy compound. The Iraqis are not stupid. They see, maybe better than anyone, that the US will suffer an enormous black eye and hand the Jahadists gain a tremendous victory if the US pulls its financial and military support for the rump government it has set up under its protection. We have walked ourselves into a quagmire from which we cannot extract ourselves without very painful loss of face and power. The situation is all the worse because perfectly rational, fair minded and patriotic people warned against precisely this outcome when the President and his people, the Cheneys and the Rumsfelts and the Wolfowitzs and the Pearls, were hell bent on going into Iraq on the cheap and with precious little international support. All we had going for us was the Big Stick of US military superiority. Now we have demonstrated that The Big Stick is woefully inadequate and we have squandered out moral and political advantage. A couple metaphors come to mind, Tar Babies, Riding Tigers, Swamps and Alligators, Charles I had his Cromwell, Lyndon Johnson his Uncle Ho and George Bush … let George Bush profit by their example.

A little hyperbolic, perhaps, but arguably justified in the particular circumstances.

Golly, John, is that all? I know I’ll sleep better tonight.

And not even all of them – some of the neocon crowd are muttering that the administration has effectively stabbed them in the back through its ineptitude and/or failure to sink enough political capital into the cause.

I roughly agree with this, albeit for slightly different reasons.

If we pull out fast, a civil war with set pieces breaks out. This would be politically unacceptable for the President.

“Staying the course”, and keep the same troop levels in Iraq is unsustainable: our military isn’t large enough and recruitment efforts would be insufficient. Reality finally collides with the neocon’s imperial dreams.

A draft is ruled out. A dramatic and imaginative increase in pay for grunts won’t happen.

That leaves the “draw down and muddle through” option – call it anything but “cut and run”.

Re the OP: I’d tune out the posturing and stick with an analysis of the fundamentals. One way or another, the US has to substitute in Iraqi troops.

I agree, and I’m afraid that John Mace is right about GW’s determination not to let things fall completely apart on his watch.

It seems to me that soon or late, the Iraqis are going to have to solve this mess that we have created as a result of what looks more and more like a case of extreme gullibility on the part of the public. That solution probably won’t be very pretty and contains the great danger of a wider mid-east war. I don’t think GW wants any part of having that on his hands and will do his damndest to “muddle through” as you say and leave the mess for his successor.

I hope for a Democratic Congress and a Republican President next time around.