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Monday, June 19, 2006


The Democratic "exit strategy"

I just watched Sens. Levin, Reed, and Salazar on C-SPAN presenting their new "plan" for "withdrawal" from Iraq. The easy criticism would be to note that this proposal was more prayer than plan; it's concrete details say that withdrawal must "start" (would 100 troops count?) by the end of this year, and after that, there won't be any timetable other than "dependent on conditions" (which is of course the Bush "plan"). The other easy criticism would be to note the Democrats' disarray -- Levin was asked what Sens. Kerry and Feingold thought of the plan, and he didn't know; a little later I'm watching CNN and I'm learning that Kerry, Feingold, and Boxer have put forward another "plan." But let me move on from those easy criticisms to a different subject - those "conditions."

During the questioning, the subject of those erectile Iraqis (you know, the ones who are "standing up") came up. And Levin was asked about the readiness of the Iraqis, and he mentioned the zero or one Iraqi battalion which is able to operate independently (allegedly, and whatever that means anyway), and the 65 who are able to "take the lead" with American support. And when he was asked what was keeping those 65 battalions from becoming independent, the main thing he mentioned was equipment.

And that is precisely the point I have hammmered on multiple occasions under the title "The 'Exit Strategy' is a sham." I have pointed out that the main "successes" of the American military effort have been almost uniformly dependent on air power (the killing of Zarqawi being just the latest example), and that there was no chance, zero, that the U.S. would ever allow Iraqis to fly those planes, much less leave planes there, because they know very well that anything they allow Iraqis to get their hands on will eventually, if not quickly, be used against either the Americans or their Iraqi surrogates, or both.

It's important to add that this doesn't just go for airplanes, though. Are the Americans going to give tanks to the Iraqis? Howitzers? Not on your life. Sophisticated AWACS or other kinds of high-technology devices upon which the American forces depend, and which undoubtedly comprises at least some of that "support" which those 65 "able to lead" battalions are receiving? Not a chance. Even night-vision goggles or other equipment which allows the American forces to fight at night and gain an advantage over their opponents are hardly likely to be given to Iraqi forces.

The number of Iraqi battalions "able to operate independently without American support" hasn't increased beyond zero or one, whatever the number is, for a very good reason, and that reason isn't going to change, which means that Iraqi forces aren't going to be able to operate without American support a year from now, or two, any more than they are now.

The political question to ask, then, is why are the insurgents able to operate without such outside military expertise and technology and weaponry, and yet still be able to be so effective? In part it's because their objectives are different, of course -- killing off American and Iraqi soldiers and policemen, but not in general attempting to hold territory or fight in open formation. But in part, and an important part, it's also because of their implantation in the population, the fact that they are, to an extent, the population, if not the actual fighters than certainly those either actively or passively providing support or protection. And that force can only be "defeated" in one way -- by ending the occupation that they are fighting. In other words, by acknowledging, if not "defeat," that "victory" is not going to happen.

We know George Bush is never going to acknowledge that. And, as of now, the number of Democrats willing to do so are few and far between, and certainly not including any of the Senators introducing their various resolutions and "plans" today.

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