Just FYI…for people who read antiwar.com, there’s a remarkable distortion under the title “The Palmer Plan,” allegedly for “withdrawing from Iraq.” Sadly, it’s not a plan and is taken out of context (and without any of those cute link-things to the original that honest blogs use). It’s taken from my response to a hypothetical question from John T. Kennedy:
Palmer: “The more successful the elections, the earlier our troops will leave. That’s a fact.”
By what standard of success? Do you mean if 99% of the people vote the U.S. will leave sooner than if 30% vote?
Mr. Kennedy also poses a good question about U.S. policy in Iraq. Yes, I think that if 99% of the people were to vote, that would be a very strong step toward creating an Iraqi government that could take on the insurgents. That is a step toward withdrawal (although precise numerical ratios between election turnout and likelihood or speed of withdrawal are impossible to specify). There are both objective and subjective conditions for a U.S. withdrawal. Certain policy constraints are fixed, or so close to such that they should be taken as given. One is that “Americans don’t like to run.” Whether rational or not, some justification for a retreat other than “we were beaten” is a necessary part of promoting withdrawal to the American people. Another is that the current government (and any likely successor) in the U.S. is not going to pull out and leave Iraq as a merely failed state that would be host to terrorist training camps. Rational or not (and I think that there are good reasons to fear such an outcome), that’s a fixed constraint. Given that, what is the best possible (not logically possible, but likely) outcome? We are likely to see less loss of life and an earlier withdrawal if the elections produce a government with the (sociological, at least) legitimacy to combat the insurgents effectively. Further, people who glorify those insurgents as “the resistance” and who denounce Iraqi soldiers as “quislings” and who “toast” the deaths of American soldiers make it harder to promote withdrawal among Americans, not easier. They play the same role as the Spartacist Leagues and their ilk did during the anti-draft debates, by discrediting other voices for withdrawal.