12/02/2005: The Strategy for that Elusive *VICTORY*
More interesting debate over the Iraqi *timetables* and *redeployment*:
"...The trouble is, all three of Bush's arguments against a timetable are highly dubious. Take the first one: that setting a deadline would "send a message to the world that the United States is a weak and unreliable ally." Given that nearly every country whose troops remain in Iraq — including the U.K. — has signaled an intention to draw down or withraw their forces in 2006, it's hard to know which allies the President is talking about. If anything, setting a date for withdrawal could send a powerful message to allies in the region to take greater responsibility for helping to tame the insurgency, by making clear that the U.S. does not intend to bear the sole burden for Iraq's security indefinitely. And last month a cross-section of Iraqi leaders, backed by the Arab League, called on the Administration to set a timetable for withdrawal — signaling that the allies the U.S. is most worried about leaving in the lurch are actually endorsing the idea.
If Bush is off-base about the message a timetable would send to our friends, he is even less persuasive about what it would signal to America's enemies. He argues that setting a deadline would "vindicate the terrorists' tactics of beheadings and suicide bombings and mass murder — and invite new attacks on America." While al-Qaeda would likely hail a U.S. pullout deadline as proof they had humbled the U.S., they're just as likely to use the continued U.S. presence in Iraq as a rallying point for luring more recruits to join the insurgency. Setting a deadline for withdrawal wouldn't on its own sap the jihadists' strength, but neither would it enhance their existing desire to attack the U.S. homeland. They're hardly lacking in motivation: — witness the carnage in London and Amman and Bali and everywhere else the terrorists have struck while the U.S. was staying the course in Iraq. And a timetable could even have the opposite effect on the psychology of Zarqawi and his minions, by undermining their stated intention of pinning down the U.S. military in an endless, bloody guerrilla war.
Bush's last argument against a timetable is probably his strongest — that setting a fixed deadline will encourage the insurgents to wait "long enough," conserve their energies until U.S. troops withdraw and then unleash hell all over again. Even some timetable advocates, such as the New York Times' Nicholas Kristof, have expressed the same concern. But as former Council on Foreign Relations president Leslie Gelb — who supports a "flexible" withdrawal plan — has argued, the idea that the hard-core insurgents would simply stop fighting if the U.S. outlined a plan to withdraw over a period of years is nonsense: doing so, Gelb points out, would allow the U.S. and Iraqis to consolidate and build public loyalty. Meanwhile, there's considerable evidence to suggest that at least some of the groups that currently make up the "nationalist" wing of the insurgency might be more inclined to lay down their arms and join the political process if they had some assurance that the U.S. really does intend to leave Iraq eventually..."
-- Romesh Ratnesar (Time): Why Bush is Wrong About an Iraq Timetable.
Karen on 12.02.05 @ 06:47 AM CST