Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Timetables Versus Cutting and Running

To my post last week on Leadership, Wars, & Democracy, Jon said:
President Bush will continue to "dismiss" the call by the liberal left and the Defeatest [sic] Jack Murtha until our mission in Iraq id [sic] finished. So those on the Left can continue to squawk at the wind and we will stay the course in Iraq.
I think I need to post a bit of a clarification to my statement, and ask Jon (or whoever else is listening), "What mission?"

First, I don't want my posting to imply that I think we need to set an absolute date in the near future after which there will be no U.S. soldiers on the ground in Iraq. Wonderful as that would be, even I recognize that that is not realistic. What I would like in a timetable is some sort of exit strategy, with specific goals (what and when) and benchmarks that will indicate when we might "be done."

This will not only help us (U.S. citizens/voters) feel more comfortable with what we're doing there, but will also tell the Iraqis exactly what is expected of them, and the world what our intentions are.

Now, let's get to that bit about staying the course "until our mission is finished." First, our mission was to eliminate Iraq as a regional threat (WMDs and all that). I think we've done that. Next, our mission was to remove Saddam from power. Mission accomplished. Then we wanted to see them form an interim government, write a constitution, hold elections, and form a permanent government. Done, done, done, and done.

Our mission at this point, if we have one at all, seems to be, "Make them stop hating us." I don't believe that this is a mission that can be accomplished through an occupation. A timetable and benchmarks for turning all security over to Iraq does stand a chance on winning us a few friends and defusing some of the argument for hating us.

Now, if I've missed something - if we have some clear, achievable mission - please let me know. And don't say, "ending terrorism." I need something more specific than that. If we're going to "stay the course" I'd kind of like to know what that course is. So would a whole lot of other people.

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