Why We Cannot Set a Timetable for Withdrawal

Sunday, December 04, 2005
Most people I've heard who are against setting a timetable for our withdrawal say it is because it will give a signal to our enemies they only have to bide their time until we leave. Then they can take over.

A signal to the enemy is only a part of it. And probably the smaller part. It's the signal to our potential allies among the Iraqi people that is more important. How can we gain their trust if they know we will go poof before the work is complete? Iraq is a nation of tribes, and the sunni tribes are the most important to win over in order to end the insurgency (and defeat the al Qaeda terrorists there because without the support of the local tribes, foreign terrorists are ratted out too).

The work that is going on under the radar to create jobs and strengthen the Iraqi economy and thus better the lives of its people is dependent on the good will and cooperation of tribal leaders. More and more are working with the coalition forces but if a town has split loyalites our job is harder and often compromised.

What we've been seeing in Iraq is a steady increase in the number of sunni tribes that are deciding to at minimum join the political process and at best help defeat the insurgents and terrorists in their towns. It has taken time for us to gain their trust. But it is not just the goodwill of Americans that wins them over, it is often the savagery and cruelty of the insurgents and terrorists themselves.

Here is an AP report about how the assassination of a tribal leader in Samarra backfired on the insurgents. (h/t Austin Bay).

But it's not enough to turn tribes against the insurgency, they must also have something to turn towards. And right now it's the Americans and their soldiers and civil affairs people that fill that niche. It is also not enough to have the Iraqi military be able to handle the fighting. The Iraqi government and fledgling institutions must also help to create jobs, get small businesses off the ground, and maintain/upgrade infrastructure. Thus Iraq's political process is every bit as important as its military progress.

And we cannot leave until both are ready to completely fill our shoes.

And that is Bush's plan. When Iraqi's stand up, we'll stand down. And Bush is not just talking about the Iraqi military. Though reading between the lines, I think Bush has quite a bit of confidence in Iraq's political progress.

So I simply cringed when I heard Barbara Boxer today say that Bush has no plan and we have to tell the Iraqi people to fight for their own country. Barbara, you are either naive, ill-informed, or stupid. Take your pick.


Julian Biggs said...

syl - you left out venomous, craven and mendacious.

Syl said...


Peter UK said...

There is considerable doubt as to why we should give credence to journalists,there is no reason why this doubt cannot courteously extended to politicians.

Peter UK said...

A timetable for withdrawal will be predicated on many things,but essentially positive actions by the opposition,if these are known they can faked.For example a reduction in arms can be made to look as if it complies with the rules,when in actual fact it does not.
This was Britains experience with the IRA,endless feigned disarmaments which left the IRA in exactly the same place as before.Essentially you will get whatever looks like getting you out of Iraq.

ambisinistral said...

Somewhere they've replaced exit conditions with an exit timetable. The two are vastly different things. Exit conditions are for victors, withdrawl timetables are for losers.

This Administration has repeatedly dropped the ball on participating in the discussion, which has allowed the other side time and time again to set the narrative of events.

The media, which is long on English majors but short on history majors, believes their interpretation of events. Unless they are confronted over their endless hair-brained, and largely wrong, previous predictions they'll believe it right up until they switch the topic to something else.

Morgan said...


I think you're right. Winning in Iraq only requires that we build up the Iraqis to be strong enough to counter the insurgents/terrorists on their own, but winning the war on terror requires more - we need to be perceived as steadfast in our willingness to fight for the ideals that will drive trasformation in the region.

Syl said...

Well, Brit Hume tonite pointed out something which I think is just about right. Bush has actually framed the discussion as being between two choices: Victory and Cut-and-Run-defeat.

The Dems are in a shambles ever since his Wednesday speech but they look to be converging on cut-and-run.

So, Bush has, indeed, changed the narrative. Instead of How We Get Out of There it's now Win or Leave.

Bush just has to keep on pressing.

Syl said...


Yes indeed!! Most definitely!

Buddy Larsen said...

Fox research dept is deadly. Today, in excruciating, teeth-grinding, jaw-dropping, bowel-clenching close-up, I watched the workings of the botox-Masked Marvel of Massachusetts intone as to how the man inside the cement-skin couldn't be partisan re the need for a staged withdrawal, as he "...totally agreed with The McCain Position on the exit strategy."

The screen then cut back to the newslady, who chirped "Only problem, is Senator McCain HASN'T called for a withdrwal, but rather a buildup of MORE troops.

Screen cut to Sen.McCain, also today, saying exactly that.

Pooor JFKerry, he's even sloppy about being sloppy.

The thing is, he doesn't know he's laughable. And he has an overseas audience that also doesn't know he's laughable.

So he really ain't, laughable.

MeaninglessHotAir said...

I think you've nailed it, Syl. The way to frame this debate is that we can't let the Iraqi people down. Just keep hammering home that it's all about the Iraqi people.

After all, at this point, it truly is. We won the war some years ago.

Anybody who wants to cut and run is objectively hoping to have lots of Iraqis die. Why do they want that? Is it because they don't think brown people are real people? Is it because they don't care about those who are more helpless than themselves? Where is the spirit of liberality?

I didn't favor this war going in. But the effect on the innocents is why, at this point, I think any honest liberal has to be in favor of current US actions in Iraq. It is of a piece with the noble work this country has done in other locales such as Europe, Japan, and the Phillipines under Democratic leadership. Cut-and-run is unconscionable in its devastation of the innocents of Iraq. Only the most selfish or clueless would call for it.

Peter UK said...

To an outsider the position seems clear,fullfil the obligations to Iraq,even if the outcome is not ideal and principle will be seen to have been at work.
Cut at run and self interested political imperatives are all that will be seen.

terrye said...

MHA and Syl speak for me here.

If Barbara Boxer can be a Senator how hard can it be? I mean really..the woman is silly. She really is. What is her plan? Run for the hills....

I recall a story concerning a communication between Zwarhiri and Zarqawi [what names] and they made mention of the fate of America's "agents" in Viet Nam after we left that country.

How can anyone support giving these two madmen what they want and if we do who will ever trust us again? And why should they?

Peter UK said...

Isn't it about time we called our politicians on things the know nothing about? So,OK they got voted in..Michael Jackson sold millions of records,but that doesn't make him an expert on childcare.
It is almost feudal, the way, in the 21st century,we defer to these boobs ,at one time they were our representatives,now they are our "leaders" when did things change?

Julian Biggs said...

exactly right, peter. the idea that Boxer 'represents' me (as she is supposed to) in any legitimate fashion is preposterous - so, in fact, nobody represents me.
Wasn't that situation the catalyst for some kind of rebellion once?

Peter UK said...

If you are one of her constituents demand to know her bona fides as a military expert...it is sickening that these people can talk off the top of their heads about matters of life and death.

terrye said...


Yes it is. I don't know how half these people ever got elected in the first damn place.

Peter UK said...

It also helps to cover the fact that the the trial of Saddam Hussein is underway
If the true depravity of this evil monster becomes common knowledge,the Democrats position that the war was,immoral, illegal and fattening will look more and more cynical and amoral than it does now.
As an egregious PR woman in the UK said "This looks like a good day to bury bad news"

Peter UK said...

Right on cue, Howard Dean calls for US surrender.