“I know there’s a lot of speculation that these reports in Washington mean there’s going to be some kind of graceful exit out of Iraq,” he said. “This business about a graceful exit just simply has no realism to it at all.”
-George Bush commenting on the Iraq Study Group Report
President Bush is becoming increasing isolated in his view that the US and its allies will stay the course in Iraq. Democrats and many Republicans are now calling for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. Advance reports from the Iraq Study Group seem to indicate that the group will agree with that position. I have a feeling that Bush will persist in his position until he has no choice but to accede to all the voices calling for a withdrawal from Iraq. That change could come at any time. President Bush has a long history of proclaiming the hard line, then changing course suddenly. Rumsfeld’s dismissal one week after the midterm elections is a good example. President Bush proclaimed that Rumsfeld would stay as Defense Secretary until the end of his second term. One week later, Rumsfeld ‘resigned’.
President Bush is correct when he says that there will be no graceful exit from Iraq. I think he’s wrong when he contends that there will be some kind of victory there. The lessons of Vietnam and the first Iraq war seem to be lost on the Neo-Conservatives. Fighting a war with no discrete goals will always lead to a quagmire. President Bush has engaged us in an open ended occupation in the most volatile region of the world. This isn’t a case like Vietnam where we can leave without national security repercussions. Iraq is one of the world’s largest suppliers of oil. Withdrawing troops will probably destabilize the region further, but there is no option for creating peace in the region while our troops remain in Iraq. Ideologues in the Neo-Conservative movement have trapped us in a catch-22. That is the inevitable outcome when National Security decisions are made based on Ideology rather than political realities.
We need to accept the political reality of the region and let our enemies trap themselves in Ideological quagmires. That reality means pulling out of Iraq. Despite the power vacuum that will create, it is the best way forward.