- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
No, we are not jeopardizing any “victory” by withdrawing prematurely. Put such Kool-Aidish thoughts aside-they feel like today’s version of the 2003 “mission accomplished” banner.
Repeat after me: There is not going to be any victory, no matter how long we stay or how soon we leave. Iraq is probably going to be violent for many years to come, and likely will be a closer ally of Iran than of the United States-nice job, W! For President Obama, the question from day one has been how can the U.S. government best mitigate the damage done in Iraq over the last eight years by the Bush-Cheney administration? The original mistake was invading a country pre-emptively on false premises. Everything we do is tainted by that sin. Even so, Professor Feaver, I wind up on your side, not for your reasons, but because I think the best way to undo the Bush-era damage might not be to bug out quickly.
For what it’s worth, which isn’t much, John Hannah, Dick Cheney’s national security advisor from 2005 to 2009, offers a similar argument in today’s Los Angeles Times. Not really worth reading, but fun for its multiple references to all the mistakes the Bush administration made in Iraq. I wonder where he was when that happened? Basically, Hannah is setting up to blame Obama if Iraq doesn’t become a stable, democratic ally of the United States. As if.