Withdrawal from Iraq — Contemplating the Consequences

The New York Times is making a big deal on their website about a leaked memo written by Colonel Timothy Reese, a U.S. military adviser in Baghdad. In the memo, Reese argues that we should accelerate our withdrawal from Iraq:

As the old saying goes, “guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.” Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose. Today the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) are good enough to keep the Government of Iraq (GOI) from being overthrown by the actions of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the Baathists, and the Shia violent extremists that might have toppled it a year or two ago. Iraq may well collapse into chaos of other causes, but we have made the ISF strong enough for the internal security mission. Perhaps it is one of those infamous paradoxes of counterinsurgency that while the ISF is not good in any objective sense, it is good enough for Iraq in 2009. Despite this foreboding disclaimer about an unstable future for Iraq, the United States has achieved our objectives in Iraq. Prime Minister (PM) Maliki hailed June 30th as a “great victory,” implying the victory was over the US. Leaving aside his childish chest pounding, he was more right than he knew. We too ought to declare victory and bring our combat forces home.

This is in some ways reminiscent of the advice I used to hear from some officers when visiting Baghdad prior to 2008. Although this was not the majority sentiment by any stretch, some iconoclasts in uniform would claim that the task was hopeless, that the Iraqis could never be good partners, and that therefore we should pull out. In other words, they thought we should pull out because we couldn’t win. Now Colonel Reese suggests we should pull out because we’ve already won and can’t achieve anything more. His rationale — the allegedly hopeless state of Iraqi political and military culture — is identical to that once cited by those who wanted to pull out even when the war was still raging against us.

0
Shares
Google+ Print

Withdrawal from Iraq — Contemplating the Consequences

Must-Reads from Magazine

A Man With a Plan?

Podcast: Is it a purge or a plan? Or both!

On the second of this week’s podcasts, I get into it with Noah Rothman on whether the president’s behavior toward his attorney general and the new White House communications director’s conduct toward the White House chief of staff constitute a “plan” of action or whether we are just living through nihilistic chaos. Where does Abe Greenwald come out? You’ll have to give a listen.

0
Shares
Google+ Print

Playing Transgender Politics

Posturing, not policy.

On Wednesday morning, at 8:55 a.m., President Trump tweeted: “After consultation with my Generals and military experts, please be advised that the United States Government will not accept or allow…” Many in the Pentagon wondered if he was announcing military action against North Korea, which, according to new intelligence estimates, is set to field a nuclear-tipped ICBM as early as next year. Not until nine minutes later was the suspense lifted with another presidential tweet: “…Transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. Military.”

6
Shares
Google+ Print

A Secularist vs. the Progressive Faith

A double standard is, in fact, a standard. Just an immoral one.

Really it should come as no surprise that the scientist and outspoken atheist Richard Dawkins is the latest public figure to have fallen victim to a disinviting mania. After all, if a darling of the left feminist like Germaine Greer can face a campaign to silence her over her views on transgenderism or a woman of color like Ayaan Hirsi Ali can face similar attempts to have her free speech on campus canceled, why should Dawkins be spared?

40
Shares
Google+ Print

Unmasking Is Not a Distraction

Democrats will regret treating this as a partisan issue.

Whenever a former Obama administration official’s name comes up in the process of investigating the Trump campaign’s alleged links to Russian sources, Democrats take the position that the right’s penchant for “whataboutism” neutralizes the implication of wrongdoing. The Democratic objective is to shame those who are committed to crafting a full and unbiased portrait of the events of 2016 into ignoring inconvenient facts, but the Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee remains unintimidated.

13
Shares
Google+ Print

Will Mattis Betray the Gulf Allies?

Has Mattis gone rogue?

At the core of the Qatar dispute is the question of Qatar’s support for extremism. While many Gulf states have histories of donating to or promoting radical Islamism, many have made real reforms. Saudi Arabia, for example, became much more serious about the need to curtail support for radical groups after the Kingdom started suffering blowback with terrorists targeting foreigners living in Saudi Arabia and senior Saudi officials. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, meanwhile, has cracked down not only on the Muslim Brotherhood but has also moved to sever the life-line Egypt often provided Hamas leaders in Gaza. Qatar, however, continues to set itself above the rest in its support for Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.

12
Shares
Google+ Print