25 August 2005

Wittmann: Win or Get Out? -- A Bleak Scenario

Marshall Wittmann, the moderate Democrat calling himself "Bull Moose," who used to work for John McCain, has a thoughtful piece about the non-option, in his mind, of unilateral withdrawal from Iraq.

My comment to him:

I'm unconvinced of the utility of keeping forces in Iraq, but assuming you're right, I notice your piece says nothing about the possibility, even at this late date, of securing more international involvement. Surely if Iraq is so dangerous to our future security, it poses at least to some degree the same danger to Europe, China, Russia? Why should the U.S. bear this burden alone? I believe if Kerry had been elected president he would have spent the last year on just this effort. This president has not, and as a result the situation in Iraq is so bleak that there appears less and less likelihood that any outcome other than eventual unilateral withdrawal can successfully be brought about. And that is a catastrophe. The only way to wrest some kind of victory from this debacle would be through honest admission of past mistakes, and appeal to common security interests to secure international commitment, including U.N. troops, to ensuring stability in that country. I can't see this administration doing this or being successful at it even if it tried. The moral gravitas simply isn't there.

At this point, it seems to me that otherwise the eventual outcome will almost certainly be worse than if we had simply left Saddam Hussein in power. And THAT is the real betrayal of the sacrifice of all the ordinary citizens who have been asked, or forced, to serve there; some to sacrifice their lives there. The chief fault here lies not in those who see quagmire and oppose any further commitment to a lost cause, but in the halls of power. And the greatest tragedy is that any other outcome is coming closer and closer to being impossible, politically if not militarily. If that happens, those who propose withdrawal will come to be seen as having proposed the "least worst" option, in terms of mounting casualties, since the outcome will be the same. In this way, the war in Iraq does indeed resemble Vietnam more and more.

See also Larry Johnson's piece in TPM Café.

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