Monday, July 21, 2008

Same Debate. Different Subject

Remember the Iraqi political benchmarks of early last year? The ones that Iraq has largely met?

Iraq missed the original Congressional deadline and the anti-war leadership in Congress tried to use the failure to fully meet those goals as an excuse to abandon Iraqis to their jihadi and militia enemies.

I argued they were useful as goals to push the Iraqis to meet, but that deadlines were not a tactic to ensure victory.

But however late, the benchmarks were reached and Iraq is emerging as a victory in the war on terror, with al Qaeda and Iran's proxies down and out.

So now, anti-war advocates want a hard deadline while war supporters want no such thing. The Iraqis won't insist on hard deadlines and we don't want them:

The White House said Monday that a planned US-Iraq long-term strategic agreement will not include a specific date for a withdrawal of US combat troops.

"What it will not do is have any sort date tied to combat troops, like how many American troops would be in Iraq at X date. That would not be included," spokeswoman Dana Perino told reporters.

But the pact is expected to include an "aspirational date" for Iraqis to take over security for all of the war-torn country's provinces, she said amid a confused back and forth between Baghdad and Washington on the issue.

"It might be something along the lines of 'we think that Iraq would be able to take over its security for all of its provinces by this aspirational date,'" Perino said.

"But I don't know exactly how it's going to read, but it would not include anything about troop levels," she said amid a bitter back and forth on the issue between the leading US presidential hopefuls ahead of November elections.

So, if these aspirational goals are met by various dates, we could then--based on the conditions on the ground--pull troops back to bases inside Iraq or pull them out completely.

If the goals are not met, we keep working the problem so the Iraqis can meet the goals without pulling troops back or out.

Always remember, the "pro-war" side wants to end the war by winning. The anti-war side just wants out and they don't have any particular investment in winning. Indeed, some on the Left hope to ride our defeat to political victory at home. That didn't work so well in the long run after Vietnam, but who said our Left was historically minded?