Monday, September 11, 2006

The Anbar Question

So the story racing around the blogosphere is a report by the Marine Corps chief of intelligence that we've lost the Anbar province. Not that we're losing, not that the situation is dire, but we've lost, plain and simple. We were defeated. There is nothing more we can do there.

That's the central question, isn't it? I have not signed on to a troop withdrawal yet, primarily because I agree with Tom Friedman when he says that "we've got to find a way to salvage something out of Iraq." Not just for the Iraqi's sake, but for our sake too. Leaving that country in a state of anarchic civil war would be morally catastrophic, and would permanently damage America's standing in the eyes of the world (on top of the beating we've already taken on that score). Defeat in this war would do indescribable damage to any American effort to lead on any number of pressing international issues: from loose nukes, to brutal tyrants in Iran and North Korea, to the Israeli/Arab conflict.

But reality has a way of intruding on what "we've got to" do, and at some point we have to objectively assess whether or not Iraq is beyond our help. Call me a "defeat-o-crat" if you want, but eventually we've got to ask ourselves whether there is any hope for salvation. Have we reached that point yet? I don't know. But this assessment of Anbar certainly has to raise the question.

2 comments:

jack said...

and would permanently damage America's standing in the eyes of the world (on top of the beating we've already taken on that score)

You can't go down from here. But I'm not sure how staying in Iraq increases our standing since the reason our standing is so low is that we went to Iraq. The best thing we could do for our standing is show some humility.

And I don't want to say I told you so but...

Anonymous said...

I'd love to salvage something from our Iraq adventure.

But I have to ask, what at this point is the best case scenario? What can be salvaged at this point, and assuming we're actually willing to switch to a plan that will produce this best case scenario, how long will it take?

Neither Friedman, Rumsfeld, or anyone else seems to be able to answer that question. And without an answer I honestly can't see spending another year of quarter billion dollar days waiting for the magic to happen.