October 13, 2006

Leaving Iraq. The Tulip or the Star?

Rusty asks:

So, is leaving the answer? Or is there something else we should be doing?

Both, really.

Essentially we have to draw-down until we disappear, and the credit and legitimacy associated with victories over the Islamofascist insurgency accrues to the new government. But that leaves us with a dilemma.

Since I'm a bicycle enthusiast I've always felt that the dilemma is analogous to Lance Armstrong's choice of whether, and how, to allow Marco Pantani the win on the Mont Ventoux stage of the Tour de France in 2002. Armstrong's "big idea" was that by making a magnanimous gesture he'd create a strategic ally in his overall effort to win the Tour. But it didn't work out that way. The problem was that he didn't pull up soon enough, so Pantani (and more importantly Pantani's fans) knew that the victory had been gifted. Had Armstrong been more clever he'd have made the arrangement far less obvious, and still have won Pantani as an ally.

So, borrowing from this analogy we need to leave early enough that any final victories won't be attributed to the US.

I think the best way for us to accomplish this tricky transition, without sacrificing our own reputation, is to simply move on to another military mission. We can rightly say that we didn't leave because we were defeated, but because we had pressing concerns somewhere else. The draw-down probably should be gradual, but still faster than would have seemed prudent a few months ago. Maybe the Baker Commission can give us some cover?

And where should the next engagement be? The tulip or the star?

Posted by Demosophist at October 13, 2006 11:04 AM