Jun 28 2008

Throwing away victory: giving up too soon is the way

Category: Iraq,Obamaharmonicminer @ 1:41 pm

Just to begin with the usual disclaimer in this discussion: even if you think the war in Iraq was an error from the beginning, you still must deal with the reality we face now. We’re there. After very hard times, some of which could certainly have been avoided, things are looking up.

Grown-ups don’t make policy based on woulda/coulda/shoulda and “let’s pull out and show those darn neo-cons what a disaster they’ve created”. Grown-ups look with clear eyes at the situation as it is and say, “What do we do now?”

Maybe we shouldn’t have bought this particular property on an adjustable rate mortgage, and the monthly bill has been higher than we hoped, but do we declare bankruptcy? Or do some creative financing and restructuring? Or just stick with it, since the worst times seem to be over, and rates are coming down?

Max Boot, writing in Commentary on the complaints of Andrew Sullivan, Josh Marshall and others about Boot’s comparison of Germany, Japan, etc., to Iraq, with regard to how long we’ll have to keep troops there after major fighting is done:

Lots of people couldn’t imagine when we first intervened in the former Yugoslavia that our troops would stay there for years and that they would not be violently contested. But that is, in fact, what’s happened. Obviously there are major differences between the Balkans and Iraq, which Sullivan and Marshall can no doubt cite ad nauseam. But those deployments also show the kind of long-term role that U.S. troops can play.

The broader point is that the success of American military interventions has usually been closely related to their length. The longer we stay, the more successful we are. When we get out too quickly–as we did in Haiti in the 1990’s–the situation often goes to hell. So if we want to secure a lasting victory in Iraq we need to stay around for a good long while.

But I get the sense that Marshall and Sullivan, like many of their antiwar compatriots, don’t really care about whether we win or lose in Iraq. They simply want to get out, and damn the consequences. That brings up another historical analogy that I’m sure they would rather forget: the way we pulled out of South Vietnam after the defeat of the North’s Tet and Easter Offensives when a decent outcome (namely the long-term preservation of South Vietnam’s independence) was within our grasp. A lot of antiwar voices back then said it would actually be good for the locals if we left, just as they now say it would be good for Iraq if we skedaddled. Tell it to the Vietnamese boat people or the victims of the Cambodian killing fields.

It’s worth reading all of it, and reading Boot’s original thoughts as well.

Obama can claim his righteous foresight and ideological purity about the Iraq war all he wants, but that still doesn’t make him the person to manage our current situation. He seems more interested in acting out on his righteous indignation than making sound policy based on the realities we face. We can only hope that, if he wins, his advisers will gradually move him away from extreme, preemptive withdrawal that will throw away everything the surge has gained.

I hope his policy, if elected, will be something more than a childish, “I TOLD you so, and now I’m going to show YOU!”

President TrainingWheels, indeed, if that is the case.

I hope he reads Michael Yon’s book.

hat tip: Powerline

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