Monday, September 10, 2007

Play It For The Jury, The Defendant, and The Plantiff

As I noted sometime last week, General David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker have strolled up to Capitol Hill to deliver their announcements on how the war is going. Today, they spoke to the House. For the next couple of days, they will then talk to the Senate. Everyone pretty much expected two things out of the General: a slight withdrawal of troops and more time to wait for the American forces to win (I don't harbor the illusion that anyone else is really doing anything in Iraq. There are other countries there, but this is pretty much our particular project).

Both of these things came as suspected. Petraeus called for a draw down of about 4,000 troops by the end of the year and a return to pre-surge levels by next summer. While this is all dandy, there are two very clear camps of people looking at this war. I'll give them cheerleaders for the sake of the argument.

On the left, there are people like Dennis Kucinich, Chuck Hagel, and Mike Gravel who are calling for a complete withdrawal from Iraq. They believe that the war has been a complete mistake and that we have to cut our losses now instead of sitting around and waiting. On the right, there are people like Jeff Sessions, John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Bill Kristol who are fully behind the war and think that, with time, the war can succeed in its purported goals. Both sides believe that they are right, but are they really?

The short answer is no, neither side is right. The long answer is fairly more complex, and requires a fairly obvious realization: Iraq is fighting a civil war. The left has realized this, but their problem is the fact that a swift withdrawal will destabilize a country that is already destabilized. A precipitous withdrawal can create the breeding ground for WWIII/IV (Cold War was III, if you count it as a real war) with Iran coming in to fight to expand the politics of Shi'ite Islam in the region. But, the right's wrong too. Staying in the country will lead to the continual slaughter of American and International troops while they babysit a civil war.

The only correct answer in this situation is to start a fairly slow, long withdrawal from the country. The police force is not adequately trained and highly sectarian. America will have to spend at least two years in the country just to train them. Withdrawal can happen, but it will have to occur over the course of at least 18 months if not longer just because the country has been completely destroyed by this current course. I want our troops to come home faster, but the facts on the ground and the continual violence require me to temper my emotions and think with my head on this issue.

Also, if you want to keep up with the hearings at work, the Firedoglake women are all over it. FDL's a fantastic blog by the way. You should definitely read it if you can. Plus, they are holding it down for West Virginia.