Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Dueling Panels

The success of the Iraqi Study Group (ISG) in stirring interest, causing commentary and pleasing pundits has motivated Feckless Leader to set up his own panel, well not really a panel, rather it's billed as a review. In fact, it's going to be a meta-review, combining reviews by the State Department, the Pentagon, the CIA and the NSC. National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley will be the knitter in chief, including parts and omitting others and, undoubtedly promising victory in the conclusion.

I would hope that the ISG at least has some concrete talk about options and strategies, while we can expect Hadley's to be a collection of the Bushite talking points that won't propose much other than staying the course (without restoring that phrase from the memory hole).
But really, when you have Bush, Cheney, the Republicans and the Democrats such as they all are, what other choice is there besides 'stay the course'?

Chris Floyd, in his article No Exit, The Baker Commission and the Trap of Reality considers in some detail all of the possible solutions, staged withdrawal, withdrawal, more troops, back to bases, split up Iraq and finds that none of them will work. We know that staying the course isn't working, Chris points out that the other possibilities can't work either. Most damning is his analysis of immediate withdrawal:
6. Immediate withdrawal – "immediate" here meaning as fast as humanly possible commensurate with a more or less secure and more or less orderly extraction. The troops come home, they don't dawdle on the doorstep in some other country for awhile. But Bush will certainly never adopt this option, and neither will the Democrats, who, as Cox points out, will be too eager to prove their still-vulnerable "national security" bona fides, especially with the 2008 election looming, and blanch at being labeled the party who "cut and ran" from Iraq. And yes, it goes without saying by now, this option will very likely lead to full-blown civil war.
To me, that's still the best option, because it would require a national self-examination, and hopefully some movement away from the belief in American/Israeli Exceptionalism that dominates both parties. But the odds on it happening are astronomical.

Of course, what no one talks about is the other option, American defeat. No one on either panel, in either party can mouth that little phrase. But that is a real possibility. Anbar is largely held by the insurgents, the Shiite provinces keep tipping towards al-Sadr's boys and if and when we piss them off enough the supply lines are going to be cut. At that point, the writing will be on the wall for all to see. It's not going to be pretty.


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