Should I stay or should I go now?
If I go there will be trouble
And if I stay it will be double
So you gotta let me know
Should I stay or should I go? - The Clash.
Dave Schuler does a good job of deconstructing the holes in the withdrawal argument put forward by John Podesta, Ray Takeyh and Lawrence J. Korb today. But then again, Andy Sullivan has a hard look at Cordesman and does the same for the argument to stay.
In Dave's comments, Andy the Nonpartisanpundit writes that “The calls for withdrawal are more based on domestic considerations than actual US foreign policy interests,” but isn’t it always the case that US foreign policy is domestic policy inflicted on foreigners? The George Friedman article he cites certainly says so - that the policy is usually independent of the facts but that the facts determine the success or failure of the policy.
For me, it's about the long-term truth on the ground. I’m personally for withdrawal because I don’t believe the US can help accomplish or drive forward the massive to-do list that’s still outstanding even if violence is back to 2005 levels. Even by holding the violence down indefinitely. At some point, US foreign policy has to realise that over time Iraq’s self-determination will largely continue as Iraqis decide - perhaps even by fighting it out - and not to the tune of US policy or national interests. It's not a case of "political progress isn't fast enough" - it's that political progress of the kind Iraqis want but which will not be in U.S. interests is eventually inevitable. Iraq will be a sovereign nation, maybe even three sovereign nations, and even the UK (America's oldest ally) does stuff the U.S. would try to prevent if it had a permanent occupation there. Trying to hold back the tide is a mistake Canute learned the hard way and the British Empire learned the even harder way.