Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Timetables Show Confidence

I am tired of the claim that we must not set a timetable for Iraq because to do so would "embolden" our enemies. There are three reasons why that makes no sense at all.

First, what exactly do the Republicans fear the terrorists would do? If the terrorists were to decide to lie low for a while, that would be fantastic: Bush has been telling us for years that all we need is a few months' respite from the violence to turn the corner. If the terrorists were to launch more attacks, such recklessness could only make them more vulnerable--and is that fear even realistic? Does anyone seriously believe that the terrorists are trying to "pace" themselves now? Aren't they already attacking our soldiers as hard as they can?

Second, it doesn't matter what the terrorists might or might not do anyway. War plans are supposed to cover all reasonable contingencies. Does Bush's "surge" require a cooperative or timid enemy to succeed? Surely we have already planned for the enemy to be well-funded and bold? (If not, we'd better get out now!) If there were some secret element to the plan, I could understand protecting that, but the plan is a simple clear and hold. They've already told us what it is. To announce how long they expect it to take would give the enemy no additional options beyond what they already have.

Third, an operational war plan of this kind naturally has goals and timetables built into it. Commanders need those so they can evaluate the plan and make adjustments. Yes, the enemy can slow you down and throw off your timetable, but nobody seriously expects large-scale organized resistance to U.S. Army's movement in Baghdad. Baghdad is a hundred or so square miles, so if it takes two days to clear a square mile, the operation will be concluded in about eight months.

To keep the expected timetable secret only betrays a lack of confidence, and that sends the wrong signal to our enemies. If Bush really believes his plan will work, he should announce the timeline and stand by it. A Commander-in-Chief owes our soldiers at least that much.


Raised By Republicans said...

I think their opposition is based on the following logic. They know that the only thing keeping a lid on this mess'o'potamia is the presence of US troops. They fear (with considerable justification) that when those troops leave, all hell will break loose.

The flaw in their logic is that they assume that if the troops stay long enough the consequences of their leaving will change.

The problem is that most research on civil wars that I've seen suggests that 3rd party interventions have only a temporary pacifying effect at best - and can exacerbate things. As soon as the 3rd party intervening force departs, the beligerants will have at each other until they decide to end the military conflict.

The only thing that will stop a civil war is when one side is clearly defeated or when both sides suffer so much that they can't go on anymore. Unfortunately for the Suni Arabs, the first condition is the more likely.

What this means for us and time tables is that we effectively have a choice between letting all this blow up now or leaving our troops in place for a few more years (suffering casualties and wasting money) and then letting it all blow up. Either way, it's going to be a mess. The choice we have is how long are we going to pay to put off the decision.

The Republican policy on Iraq is like the person who takes out a new credit card to pay off the old credit card to avoid bankruptcy. Given the way Bush's buddies at Enron and Haliburton manage their companies they probably think that makes sense.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I disagree with RBR's contention about the limited ways to stop a civil war - I think there are more possibilities - but I agree with the basic point that US presence cannot do it. If "victory" means getting Iraqis to stop killing each other, that is not a military problem with a military solution. Republicans raise the "specter" of Baghdad 2008 looking like the Fall of Saigon. We should be so lucky: that began the current cycle of 30 years of peace and ultimately prosperity for Vietnam.

Bush and the GOP are staking everything on the Iraq war, and are demanding a blank check until, at least, the next administration takes office. The war is now continuing purely for Bush's own vanity: he wants the next guy to have to be the one who admits defeat.

Democrats need to say forcefully that W doesn't deserve a blank check, he is NOT a king, and unless he accepts a reasonable time limit on deployment, the war will just have to end when the money runs out. No blank check! Agree to set a date certain for bringing the troops home or admit the war is a miserable failure - along with the rest of your pathetic presidency - and end the war now.

Raised By Republicans said...

While we are quibbling I'll disagree with the characterization of post 1975 as a period of peace and prosperity. The fall of Saigon (and Phnom Pen shortly thereafter) in the spring of 1975 started a 5 to 10 period that is best characterized as a murderous shit storm. Vietnam fought separate wars with Cambodia and China. Cambodia's leaders murdered millions of people until they were stopped by the Vietnamese in the aforementioned war.

Vietnam's peace and increasing prosperity come from the explosion of global trade in the 1990s and since. Vietnam came late to the party even but came around eventually.

The point LTG is making though is essentially valid. Had we not pulled out of SE Asia, that region's period of violent upheaval would have been postponed and so too would it's eventual recovery.

We've screwed up badly in Iraq. There is no way to get out of this without a massive upheaval in that region. We're better off starting this process sooner rather than later.