I think that most of the anti-war majority in this country struggles with a vision for post-occupation Iraq. I certainly do. Some people, my favorite candidate included, are pushing for a rapid withdrawal. This approach certainly has its benefits: our budget stops bleeding billions of dollars a month; no more American soldiers die; we (perhaps) bog Iran down in having to prop up the Shi’ites. Of course, it also involves an extremely high likelihood of unleashing veritable anarchy and genocide, and producing a state which may or may not have al-Qaeda sympathies.
Charles Krauthammer imagines we will be able to eventually turn the moderate Sunnis against the extremists, and that this will solve the insurgency problems. I fail to see what this does to resolve the broader issue of Kurdish-Arab Sunni-Arab Shi’ite relations, but it’s nonetheless noteworthy.
Joe Biden is pushing for a federal variation on the three state solution. I don’t think this is a bad outcome, although it doesn’t get our troop levels down as quickly as many would like. Unfortunately, Biden will probably be ignored despite his substantial foreign policy experience because the left hates the unvarnished bluntness that is his signature.
Most other Democratic candidates seem to favor a phased withdrawal of vague duration. I don’t actually disagree with the notion itself, but I would like to see some sort of clearer plan.
Sullivan seems to be pushing for a pretty rapid withdrawal, although one that leaves a residual force in the Kurdish region to protect it from everyone else. This isn’t a bad idea either, although as I’ve said before, it will put a strain on relations with Turkey.
The administration, meanwhile, refuses to back down from the surge and related idiocies. The current brouhaha, of course, is over the Bush team’s recent assertions that because the previous benchmarks for the Iraqi Government are proving elusive, they shouldn’t count. I think there’s a term for that: moving the goalposts. They also want an extension until November to judge the surge (even though September, the previous report date, isn’t here yet and we’ve been surging for most of 2007). Glorious.
One of the stranger columns I have seen in support of this strategy is Lawrence Kudlow’s, which argues that since the stock market seems to track upward with positive discussion of the surge and downward with negative discussion, we shouldn’t abandon the surge. Nuanced, it is not. Eric Weiner, writing for the LA Times, meanwhile, argues that the current bull market is on shaky ground, and probably has no correlation to the war whatsoever.