The Center for American Progress’ Iraq Timeline, charting various Friedman Unit-esque pronouncements over the years is a thing of beauty. It also reminds me specifically of Will Marshall’s January 2004 proclamation that “America has about six months to break the resistance and give the new Iraqi government a fighting chance to survive. It would help if our leaders stopped casting anxious glances toward the exits.” In January 2004, I thought much the same thing. And, indeed, to this day, I still think that was more-or-less the correct judgment.
But that’s exactly why, by the end of 2004, I thought it was time to schedule a withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. It really was true that if armed resistance had been subdued during 2004 and Iraqis of all stripes been persuaded to pursue their political grievances, including grievances with the existence of a US military presence in Iraq, through the scheduled elections that Iraq would have been a much happier place. It also really was true that if this window of opportunity slipped by, and the new Iraqi government was born compromised by violent sectarian conflict, that the situation was, in important respects, doomed.
Which is all by way of observing that unlike the other people on this list, Will Marshall both still opposes withdrawal from Iraq and has, in the past, responded to posts on this blog. So I’d be interested to know what Marshall thinks of the fact that 43 months ago he said we only had about six months to crush armed resistance before we tipped past the point at which our involvement would become useless. I agreed with him then, and I still agree with him now — why has he changed his mind?