Monday, February 19, 2007

Iraq: What if the Democrats Get Their Wish

I'm far from the first to note that the Democratic party has a lot of political capital invested in a failure in Iraq. If things go well there, and are perceived to go well there, then Bush (and by extension the GOP) get all the credit. It will reflect well on the Republican nominee in 2008 - at least if one of the leading contenders - all of whom supported the war and the escalation - gets the nomination.

But what if things go badly?

I've said before that I see no real way that American troops can stay in an active, 'in-harm's-way' role in Iraq past the first few months of next year. If we go through the primaries and into the spring or summer with Americans dying in Iraq, the GOP nominee may be unable to win, and a full withdrawal would be guaranteed. Even if things go well, I suspect that the average voter's reaction will be 'well thank God things turned out OK. Let's hand the Iraqis the keys and get our folks out of there.'

(And as I noted before, Novak says that the White House believes they must be out of Iraq by the start of the primaries - in other words, about 10 months from now.)

OK. So what happens if the Democrats get their wish - American troops out of Iraq? There seems a strong presumption that the country will descend into civil war. Iran and Syria will encourage their factions to cause all the bloodshed they can, with a view toward a pro-Teheran government (if not a puppet government). Among the possibilities are massive refugees, partition, and broader mideast war - just off the top of my head. There's no way the American media could ignore it; it would lead the news lots of nights.

So how is THAT good for the Democrats? Would it not be a constant reminder that the Democrats forced the withdrawal of the only stabilizing force in the country, and that as a result, thousands of innocents were dying and a hoped-for ally was being turned into a powerful enemy? Wouldn't the Democrats look just like the weak, foolish fringe that they were after the Vietnam War?

Is there any way they could spin this as Bush's fault?

What would their argument be? That Iraq would have been better off with Saddam still in power? It may be their only option, since the only alternate argument I can see would be 'it was a good idea to get rid of Saddam, but Bush blew the occupation so badly that a good chance for success was turned into certain failure, where even the presence of US troops could not have prevented the bloodshed and chaos that we see today (even thought they seemed to prevent it until the withdrawal).'

It seems to me that the best case for the Democrats is that the US withdraws, and the country gets a whole lot better. Of course, Bush will still get the credit, but there'll not really be any blame to cast on the Democrats. But what are the chances of that?

As far as I can see, the Democrats have painted themselves into a corner. Politically, they need to make sure that either:

  1. Iraq blows up in full civil war while US troops are there (proving the futility of the mission); or,
  2. US troops stay in Iraq until after the election.
Am I missing anything? Are the Democrats not screwed?

2 comments:

JG Hitzert said...

It is not that Iraq would be better off with Saddam In power it is that it would be better off if Iraqis had been the ones to topple him.

Your perspective is haunted by the fact that the Bush admins rush to war was a faulty decision.

Answer me this though. How is stabilizing a region to avoid it devolving into a wider conflict to the advantage of the US. Withdrawing would mean that the Syrians, Iranians and the Saudis would be drawn into an insurgentcy that they are less financially prepared to prop up and would be more dangerous for them. Rather than fighting them "there so we don't have to fight them here" - they would be fighting each other there.

Unless of course you think that the Arabs and Iranians would be better able to settle the conflict? You really think they are more inclined to a quick and effecient peace that would leave Iranian backed Shia in control? Your post seems to imply it.

What is really the case is that both rogue and adversarial elements in the area would be tied down for a great while. Leaving us free to pursue a better squared away Afganistan. If then we would be drawn into a regional conflict we would be better served not doing it from within a Iraqi civil war.

Before you conservatives pipe up about strategy it would be good of you to read a bit on the subject. As many have pointed out in the past, Mao, Washington and Genghis Khan all knew that withdrawing was as effective a strategy in winning wars as any other.

Joe said...

Wow. This all seems familiar Mr. Editor.

"Withdrawing would mean that the Syrians, Iranians and the Saudis would be drawn into an insurgentcy that they are less financially prepared to prop up and would be more dangerous for them. "

No. They are there now assisting the insurgency, they needn't be drawn into the fight. It's dangerous for Iran, Syria and the Saudis, because they risk American wrath. If we leave and chaos follows, they could be drawn into conventional warfare, which is less of a risk-because they won't be facing the US.

"You really think they are more inclined to a quick and effecient peace that would leave Iranian backed Shia in control? Your post seems to imply it."

Uhhh... did I miss something? I think you meant "I infer that from your post." I didn't see anything to infer the peddler feels Iran or the Arabs could better solve this. In fact, I think he said their would be a mass slaughter, Baghdad would become a carnal house and the survivors would rule at the point of the Tehran's sword.

I think he implies we're likely the only one who can solve it. Maybe I read it wrong.

"What is really the case is that both rogue and adversarial elements in the area would be tied down for a great while."

Our allies might get slaughtered, we wouldn't advance freedom, Iraq would be a haven for terrorists and our credibility would be destroyed... but that's okay.

"Before you conservatives pipe up about strategy it would be good of you to read a bit on the subject. As many have pointed out in the past, Mao, Washington and Genghis Khan all knew that withdrawing was as effective a strategy in winning wars as any other. "

Well, yeah "withdrawl" is great.... IF WE WERE THE INSURGENTS.

We're not, in fact in all those cases you sight they withdrew to outlast a superior force and prayed for a political change. That's what the insurgency wants US to do. As for "withdrawing as effective a strategy" as any other, I think you need to remember-"withdrawl" was an utter failure in Vietnam and wouldn't have slowed down the Nazis. I think killing the enemy and controlling the territory is far more effective.

"Withdrawl" is never a "winning" strategy it's a "survival" strategy.

But, then again as a veteran of the war in Iraq, I've never read up on the subject, I was taught to win.


JG.... you're really Murtha aren't you?!?!