- Go Big - can't do, no more troops.
- Go Long - "stay the course".
- Go Home - "cut and run".
Over at Democracy Arsenal Suzanne Nossel paints a pretty bleak picture of what's in store for the US in Iraq.
Facing the Truth, and Now What?
Go read the entire thing but she concludes with this:
9. If we don't begin a planned exit, there's a good chance we'll find ourselves in an unplanned one - Its surprising that by now we haven't experienced the Iraqi equivalent of the 1983 bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut or the dragging of a corps of an American soldier through the streets of Mogadishu a decade later. But it seems likely that that day will come.Yes things in Iraq can, and probably will, get worse.
So what do we do next:Can anyone convince Bush/Cheney to change course? As long as Cheney has input the answer is no. Many who understood the social, religious and political realities in the area predicted what we see today before the invasion. They were ignored, ridiculed and fired. Anyone who suggests ways to minimize the damage and chaos in Iraq today will face a similar fate. Just wait for the images of helicopters airlifting people out of a Green Zone under siege in the not too distant future.
In short, develop a withdrawal scenario that includes whatever steps can reasonably be taken to minimize the chaos in our wake. A regional conference, talks with Syria and Iran, improved training and reconstruction efforts, political mediation and efforts to bolster the security of less violent regions should all be part of the package. To the extent we can engage Iraq's neighbors as well as any other global powers who are willing to step up to the plate and help us and Iraq, we should. We should be honest with ourselves and with the Iraqis about what we are doing and why, acknowledging all of the above rather than pretending that we're handing off a country that's in better shape than it is. But we should commit to getting out of there regardless of how the diplomacy and mediation progress.
Our exit should be as responsible and forthright as our entrance was wanton and misleading. The best thing we can promise troops who are now being asked to put their lives at risk for an all-but-declared failure is that they are taking risks to enable the US to make the best out of a terrible situation, preserving what can be saved of both Iraqi stability (in geographic pockets) and of American credibility. Its by no means the mission they signed up for, but its an important one nonetheless.