Monday, November 20, 2006

Go Big, Go Long, or Go Home?

Well, I've taken some flak here for arguing against the "Go Home" option, but it looks like some important experts agree that that's out.

"Go Big" is apparently impossible.

The drawing of the conclusion is left as an exercise for the reader.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

If the "withdraw now" folks here seem too wild-eyed for you, Winston, I'd suggest reading some Matthew Yglesias. He had alot of the same thinking as you did before the war (he actually ended up supporting it beforehand!) Since then, he's gone through a very interesting transformation re. Iraq and foreign policy in general and has come to the measured conclusion that the U.S. presence isn't stopping any violence, is contributing the violence, and with no other options left, the best of a shitty crop of losses is to pull out.

Once again, I need to point out that nobody I've met with a conscience who wants the U.S. to leave rules out intervention in the event of post-withdrawl genocide. But the fact remains: U.S. troops haven't stopped the civil war from raging. Their withdrawl may worsen things, but they MIGHT MAKE THINGS BETTER. And since we KNOW that staying will NOT make things better, we should at least TRY getting out.

12:19 AM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

I've read Yglesias on occasion, but he just doesn't knock me out. seems like a smart guy, and sometimes good, but not a place I go regularly.

I know the arguments, Matthew. They're the very ones we're debating here. Pointing that Yglesias agrees with you hardly stacks up against the fact that the Pentagon agrees with *me*. The weight of expert opinion in this comparison favors my position by orders of magnitude.

Removing U.S. troops will, of course, stop violence against U.S. troops. there's absolutely no reason to think that it'll stop Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence.

but, as I've already said, I'm in favor of experimentation on these matters. I've suggested (here? maybe only elsewhere...) e.g. just staying in the Green Zone for awhile to see what will happen. If violence decreases, then we can think about leaving.

Withdrawal opponents might, I suppose, try to argue that somehow, magically, our very presence in the GZ is what's making Iraqis kill each other, and that somehow, magically, it'll stop if we leave the country. Perhaps worth considering, but very unlikely.

Staying in the GZ will allow us to test the waters re: withdrawal without the costs of redeployment and the almost-inevitable re-redeployment that will be required when this doesn't solve the problem.

You and I don't know what the costs of moving that many troops in and out of Iraq are, so we don't really know how feasible this all is...

Probably a little silly for us armchair generals to get too passionate about our positions, given how little we know about all this...

7:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Pointing that Yglesias agrees with you hardly stacks up against the fact that the Pentagon agrees with *me*."


Don't mean to play 'gotcha', but in an earlier thread you said something insightful about how we should regard Pentagon policy these days:

"First Anonymous, however, has a good point, too: many in the military claim that more troops won't help. That's an important data point. One problem is that these claims fromt the military can't really be trusted, since Bush has made it clear that anyone who doesn't toe the line will be drummed out."

All of this really is of a piece with the belief, shared by many on the left and which I am slowly coming around to, that because the idiots who shit the bed are still the ones in charge of it, we really have almost no chance of un-shitting it unless someone willing to entertain policy based on reality is in charge soon, something which doesn't appear likely.

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One reason why I haven't completely come around to the get out now position and worth reading:

1:17 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Good point, second first Anonymous.

Good point second second Anonymous, too. Wes Clark is the voice of sweet reason in all this. But the Dems don't seem to appreciate the resource they have in him...

10:04 AM  

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