"Leaving" Iraq

I think that there needs to be some sensible strategic reality in the Iraq exit discussions. The real keys are progress and time. No one wants to remain there any longer than necessary- but the goal is not tactical; therefore, “necessary” is likely to be a bit longer than a lot of us wish were the case in our utopian dreams.

Responding to the phrase: “by leaving sizable bases in Iraq after they are no longer needed”- what is the definition of “needed”?

We went into Iraq, in reality (as George Friedman noted in “America’s Secret War”), not because of imminent WMD concerns (as Bush pointed out over and over again from the beginning- WMD was the UN focus), but because it is the single most strategic country in the most problematic part of the Middle East. It is right in the middle of the bubbling cauldron that has Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia as the troubled periphery, and Jordan and Turkey as the other two neighbors. In other words, all the troublemakers are right there within arms’ reach.

Thus “needed” is going to be- by consensus of the Iraqi government AND the USnot when that government APPEARS to the NYT and Howard Dean to be stable, but when it really IS stable- which can only occur when at least two of the primary remaining troublemakers are neutralized.

That means when Iran is opened up, Syria has become “Libyanized” by whatever means are necessary, and the Saudis have pulled their heads out of the sand and recognized that their stability requires ending the pact with the Wahhabi radicals to keep the public “quiet”. (some “quiet”)

If you think about it, those really are the conditions that permit Iraq to be stable and progress.

But the military presence won’t look anything like it does now- instead, there will most likely be division-sized tripwires, a la the Korean DMZ, on the Western and Iranian borders, far away from the cities and very discreet, like the German bases have been for 60 years. Those numbers run in the range of 30,000 troops or so, which roughly matches the best guesses of the likely increased size of the Army.

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