The administration must immediately draw up a detailed plan with clear milestones and deadlines for the transfer of military and police responsibilities to Iraqis after the December elections.
No. Setting a deadline for withdrawal is sheer lunacy. It throws a lifeline to terrorists, undercuts the nascent Iraqi regime, and discourages Iraqi moderates. A firm deadline virtually guarantees that withdrawal will occur too soon. It's idiotic, counterproductive, and will ultimately cost more American lives. Treaty of Versailles, Peace of Nicias -- choose your own overblown historical analogy and drop it in. The shoe freakin' fits.
It's a huge incentive to the bad guys to simply wait us out. It's simply bad policy, .... to hold a gun to their [Iraqis'] head and intimate we might cut and run if they do not meet such timeframes is just as irresponsible as providing some drop-dead exit date (yet another fictitious "deadline"). .... Moderate Iraqis must believe that we will stand shoulder to shoulder with them come what may.
Simply put, Iraqis have always needed more support from the U.S. More troops to restore basic services and keep the civil order in the aftermath of the war. More trainers to prepare a new Iraqi army. More and better ways to channel rebuilding funds to the ground level. More assurances that we will stand beside the Iraqi government until it has been fixed. The strategic sins of the Bush Administration have been of omission, not commission.
Kerry's Op Ed notes this, of course. But noting in passing that the aftermath of the Iraq war (and here I use Djerejian's phrase) was "something of a pretty significant cluster-f*&k" ain't enough. Using it to score a political point ain't enough. You gotta act on it. You gotta fix it. You gotta offer something other than cut and run.
The only acceptable outcome for Iraq is success. There are no other routes to a happy ending. The difference between from Kerry's "plan" for Iraq and the right plan for Iraq is the difference between accepting Germany in 1919 as "good enough," and taking a shot at Germany in 1945.
We must stay in Iraq until its government is standing on its own two feet -- whether it takes two, five, or ten years. To do otherwise would be a tragic mistake, for which our children and grandchildren will pay for years to come. Democrats who give a damn -- Clinton, Biden -- know the foolishness of setting a withdrawal date. Kerry doesn't, or doesn't care.
(As always, the rest of Djerejian's analysis is well worth your time.)