So currently we have President Bush ruminating over the findings of the Iraq Study Group, and waiting for several other reports from within the administration that will probably be more to his taste. In the meantime, most everyone else in Washington, DC is using the ISG report as cover to criticize the handling of the war, just as they used the report of the 9/11 Commission as cover to criticize the so-called War on Terror. (A term Donald Rumsfeld himself has now rejected.) The plan that’s coming into vogue, which is being put forth by the Pentagon, John McCain, Silvestre Reyes (the incoming chair of the House intelligence committee), and others, is to send even more troops to Iraq and start a fight with Shiite troublemaker Moqtada al-Sadr. All of these plans and recommendations are a sideshow.
A year ago, nobody outside the anti-war blogs would honestly discuss the problems in Iraq. Violence spiraling out of control, every faction in Iraq taking up arms to make its point or press its advantages, the early signs of ethnic cleansing, and an inability of the Iraqi government or coalition troops to do much about it. Now, nobody is afraid to talk about those problems, mainly because all of them have gotten so much worse. But all of the proposed solutions seem so hollow to me. President Bush still talks about coming up with a plan for victory. The ISG’s recommendations don’t look like they’ll fix anything. The Pentagon still can’t decide which gangs of gun-toting killers we should be fighting and which we should be negotiating with. “Phased redeployment” is just a fancy way of saying “run like hell.”
And ultimately, it’s hard to blame any of them. Even I, who was never in favor of the war in the first place, and was convinced from the outset that invading Iraq was going to end badly for us, am in denial about the fact that there just aren’t any scenarios that lead to a positive outcome for the people of Iraq, to say nothing of the reputation of the United States. Two years ago I started asking people, “What if today is the best it will be for the US occupation of Iraq?” Little did I know that two years later we’d still be doing the same things we were doing back then, and that Iraq still wouldn’t have hit bottom.
What’s the best plan for Iraq? I still haven’t seen one that seems plausible, much less one that presents attainable goals. My current thinking on Iraq is that any Iraqis who can get out should do so.