"What If . . .?"

Fred Hiatt has been a silly person for a long time. But his latest contortions on Iraq are not interesting in its disingenuous but in what Hiatt will say in December 2008 or January 2009. Why do I say that? Because Hiatt writes:

[Obama] says his aim is to "succeed in leaving Iraq to a sovereign government that can take responsibility for its own future. "What if . . . Iraqi leaders are right that this goal is not consistent with a 16-month timetable? Will Iraq be written off because Mr. Obama does not consider it important enough -- or will the strategy be altered?

Leave aside Hiatt's contortions about what the Iraqi leaders said. What happens to Hiatt's rationale in January 2009, when there will be no Bush Administration (and hopefully, no McCain Administration) to force Maliki to halfheartedly soften his request that the United States leave Iraq? What then will happen to Hiatt's silly argument? One more Friedman Unit and Hiatt and his ilk will have to think up some other rationale for why the U. S. has to stay in Iraq.

By Big Tent Democrat, speak for me only

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    This has to be one (5.00 / 2) (#1)
    by CaptainAmerica08 on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:17:10 AM EST
    of the most ridiculous, incoherent articles ever written on the subject of the future of Iraq. Doesn't the post have editors?

    Yes (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:21:26 AM EST
    Doesn't the post have editors?
    Fred Hyatt

    I'd be a little careful here. . . (5.00 / 2) (#4)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:32:10 AM EST
    when there will be no Bush Administration (and hopefully, no McCain Administration) to force Maliki to halfheartedly soften his request that the United States leave Iraq?

    The analysis that I've read is reasonably uniform in believing that Maliki does not actual want US forces to leave in the time frame he's been talking about -- that he's essentially lying for internal political purposes (because the unpopular US troops actually prop up his government, protecting him from more extreme Shia parties).

    Will he really still be pushing for rapid draw downs in six months, and will his public and private statements be consistent?  And if he does backtrack, will the Obama Administration be able to make him soften that stance?

    I don't know the answers, but I wouldn't build a withdrawal strategy on the firm assumption that Maliki will really be asking us to leave next year.

    Agree that a withdrawal strategy built on (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by MO Blue on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:43:31 AM EST
    the assumption that Maliki will really be asking us to leave next year is pretty shaky ground. IIRC Iraq has an election in December and Maliki is more than likely is telling his constituents what they want to hear.

    Of course, there is a chance that in 2009 Maliki and Obama may still agree with what a Iraqi strategy looks like but it will be a different one than what is being discussed today.


    Reporting this morning. . . (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:51:19 AM EST
    is that the provisional (provincial?) elections probably won't take place this year.  The Kurds walked out after a law was passed by secret vote allowing the elections to take place everywere except Kirkuk.

    Thanks for the info (none / 0) (#13)
    by MO Blue on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:58:57 AM EST
    Missed that bit of news.

    More Details (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 12:03:26 PM EST
    Even better (none / 0) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 12:41:30 PM EST
    So there will be elections at some point in 2009.

    Maliki will be even more adamant about leaving then.


    Don't know what will happen. (none / 0) (#20)
    by LarryInNYC on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 01:34:26 PM EST
    Maliki wants to be reelected, therefore he will call (at least publicly) for Yankees Go Home during the election.  However, he probably wants to stay elected and therefore might plead privately for Yankees Stay Here.

    Although after last night, I'd vote to send the Mets or, preferably, the Phillies.


    Hold on there (none / 0) (#16)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 12:40:29 PM EST
    Maliki wants to be elected and therefore will ask that American troops leave.

    Bingo (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by Dadler on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:44:16 AM EST
    It seems quite plausible, and logical, that when Maliki talks about Americans not wanting to leave so soon because it would, to those Americans so inclined to such madness, give the perception of defeat instead of victory, that he is really saying please leave before then.  The entire timeline, from Maliki's perspective, seems predicated on not offending America's chest-thumping, vain and deluded psychological needs.

    What A Hack (none / 0) (#3)
    by squeaky on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:30:29 AM EST
    Maybe Obama can make appoint him as the official WOT clown, a new cabinet position meant to lighten things up. Weekly drown the clown contests for returning troops would help reduce wPTSD,
    yes WP TSD.

    Well, (none / 0) (#5)
    by bocajeff on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:38:00 AM EST
    What happens if the U.S. leaves and then Maliki request our assistance if another battle breaks out?

    Yes, (5.00 / 2) (#9)
    by frankly0 on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:49:03 AM EST
    it's not just Hiatt who may have a problem here.

    It's also Obama, and indeed any Democrat who pulls out of Iraq.

    The real issue isn't what Malaki or his government may or may not want. It's what actually happens on the ground when our troops leave. The very likely consequence of such a pullout is a period of chaos as factions fight for power. And, should this happen, Hiatt and others will have all the opening they might ever want to accuse Obama of "losing the war" -- especially in the wake of the relative quiescence in Iraq after the surge.

    Now I certainly think that we have to pull out nonetheless. I don't see a real justification for an endless presence in Iraq, and the chaos that will follow our withdrawal likely can't be avoided.

    But there will be a political consequence to be paid for anyone who pulls out -- again, most especially because the surge has created (or at least has likely been a necessary if not sufficient condition for) a more peaceful Iraq, which will stand in contrast to any further violence when we withdraw.


    Hello! (none / 0) (#7)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:44:11 AM EST
    we are not in right now but if you leave your name and the location of your emergency we will get back to you in a timely manner.

    So, (none / 0) (#11)
    by bocajeff on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:55:18 AM EST
    You pretty much agree then that once we're out we are never to go back in even if Maliki asks us to? So, Iran does invade we just let it go?

    It's okay if this is what you believe, but I just want to make sure I understand your position.


    honestly (none / 0) (#19)
    by Capt Howdy on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 01:01:34 PM EST
    I dont know what to believe.  its just how I would handle it.

    It seems to me to be a set up of sorts (none / 0) (#12)
    by hairspray on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 11:56:53 AM EST
    for a new Democratic administration. For the last few years the citizens (both US and Iraqi)  have been calling for us to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible, and now come all of the "What if..." hypotheticals to make leaving very difficult without a lot of blame for the next president. Instead of talking about the 55 bases and what we have in the way of bricks and mortar on the ground, and all of the other issues about leaving, the media wants to ruminate on "what if.."  

    Too many either-or relationships here (none / 0) (#15)
    by wurman on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 12:09:05 PM EST
    If . . . if the Obama Administration chooses Gen. Clark, or someone else who implements his well known, multi-faceted approach to diplomacy, foreign policy, & geo-politics in the Middle East & Central Asia (or a similar plan), then the follow-on from a well timed draw-down of troops from Iraq will not be the first step in a catastrophic disaster.  It will be a process to evolving agreements & solutions.

    Too many guess-timated scenarios function on the timeline of 'if we get out of Iraq @ 0900 Friday, then the world will end by 0900 Sunday.'  Pfffft. Worse than nonsense.

    Shorter Fred Hiatt: (none / 0) (#18)
    by Alien Abductee on Wed Jul 23, 2008 at 12:46:19 PM EST
    "Forget all those reasons we went into Iraq in the first place. We need to squat on Iraqi territory (and oil) forever."