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The Length of War

By Matthew Yglesias

"The Length of War"

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I’ve only read the ISG excerpts not the whole thing, and even in the excerpts there’s a lot to read and digest. I found myself, however, choking over this one:

The primary mission of U.S. forces in Iraq should evolve to one of supporting the Iraqi army, which would take over primary responsibility for combat operations. By the first quarter of 2008, subject to unexpected developments in the security situation on the ground, all combat brigades not necessary for force protection could be out of Iraq. At that time, U.S. combat forces in Iraq could be deployed only in units embedded with Iraqi forces, in rapid-reaction and special operations teams and in training, equipping, advising, force protection and search and rescue. Intelligence and support efforts would continue. A vital mission of those rapid reaction and special operations forces would be to undertake strikes against al-Qaida in Iraq.

Emphasis added, because there’s the rub. It’s worth saying that from the beginning the Bush administration has always had a plan to withdraw the bulk of US combat forces from Iraq in 12-18 months. It’s just that the “plan” has always gone something like “we’ll do this super-awesome stuff, then the situation will improve, and then most of the combat troops will leave.” The problem, of course, keeps being that the situation “unexpectedly” fails to improve. The policy’s failure therefore becomes the justification for continuing the very policy that’s failing.

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