It is time for the United States to leave Iraq, without any more delay than the Pentagon needs to organize an orderly exit. . .We can go on allowing Mr. Bush to drag out this war without end or purpose. Or we can insist that American troops are withdrawn as quickly and safely as we can manage — with as much effort as possible to stop the chaos from spreading.
Debating or criticizing the errors, incorrect suppositions, missteps, and false assumptions that turned the occupation and later (attempted) reconstruction into the morass that it is today is low hanging fruit (c.f. most of Congress, the Democratic Presidential candidates, Doonesbury, et al), so the venerable Times opts for cutting the whole tree down, and shredding it in a wood chipper for good measure.
Let's venture into the scenario marginally sketched out in this populist editorial for a moment, and see what the world looks like:
the Pentagon needs enough force to stage effective raids and airstrikes against terrorist forces in Iraq, but not enough to resume large-scale combat. . .Meaningless strategury; this combat force is too big, this one too small, but this package (poised on the airstrip and ready to venture forth from Okinawa or something) is just right. Why advocate utter withdrawal from a besieged nation, where your forces have provided nearly all of the stability and rule of law (marginal though it may be), only to leave military units to strike with little to no effect at the terrorist camps and jihadist vacation areas that sprout in the wake of your departure? The cruise missile strikes of the booming nineties did little to deter Bin Laden and his ilk, or to weaken Sadaam Hussein for that matter. This paragraph was likely inserted after much editorial hand-wringing to appeal to the dozen or so Times subscribers who feel guilt pangs when they ponder abandoning Iraq (whose evil but functioning government we overthrew in 2003). Ignore it and keep reading down. . .
Iraq’s leaders — knowing that they can no longer rely on the Americans to guarantee their survival — might be more open to compromise, perhaps to a Bosnian-style partition, with economic resources fairly shared but with millions of Iraqis forced to relocate. . . Or they might not be willing to compromise (c.f. the former Yugoslavia before intervention, Rwanda, Afghanistan, et al), and a precipitous withdrawal may well lead to an exponentially higher level of death, suffering, and deprivation for the Iraqi people and neighboring countries as well. A responsible editorial page should be critical of wishful thinking disguised as a solution, not proffer it up like it is a sure thing.
One of the trickiest tasks will be avoiding excessive meddling in Iraq by its neighbors — America’s friends as well as its adversaries. . . Tricky indeed, since many of Iraq's neighbors are already meddling in the country, DESPITE the fact 160,000 U.S. troops are there now. The problem of influencing the regional powers and transnational terrorist groups with designs on Iraq only increases with a U.S. withdrawal, and our ability to influence them (or anyone else in the region for that matter) is marginalized. Once again, the Iraqi people (did I mention that the U.S. overthrew their evil but functioning government in 2003 yet?) are left to pay the bill.
The Times could have saved gallons of expensive ink and sold a heck of a bunch more ads by deleting this unreasonable editorial and simply written 'We cannot stand George W. Bush and his stupid Iraq War and want them both to go away, and the sooner the better'. Wishful thinking on their part once again, but at least no one could fault them for their honesty.