Steven Simon attempts to chart a middle ground in the Iraq debate, proposing a longer timetable than Democrats are contemplating. Leaving aside the timetable question, there’s something odd about his position:
The Democrats, who recognize that victory in Iraq is unachievable, have reason on their side…
What’s needed is a timetable that meshes with politics at home and military and diplomatic realities in the Middle East. Washington will need to negotiate its withdrawal with the Iraqi government, assemble a coalition of neighbors to keep foreign fighters out of Iraq, cope with refugees from Iraq, help moderate Sunnis battle Al Qaeda, foster reconstruction, impede meddling outsiders, and plan for a humanitarian rescue if sectarian violence explodes after US forces leave.
And the departure has to be orderly. Residual troops need to be protected from attack. Nothing that isn’t intended for Iraqi Army use must be left behind.
So to review: In Simon’s view, we can have an orderly withdrawal with the blessing of the Iraqi government, while still fighting al Qaeda, protecting Iraq from its neighbors, managing any post-withdrawal crisis, and encouraging reconstruction. But victory is unachieveable. Huh?