Tuesday, December 05, 2006

What Now?

The New York Times reports that Gen. Anthony Zinni (Ret'd), once the general in charge of the U.S. Central Command--the organization with responsibility for the Iraq war (though not when he was in command)--a man who vehemently opposed the war, now favors putting in more American troops to stabilize the situation. He openly agrees with John McCain (R-AZ) on this.

The theme of the article is that Iraq is making some seemingly strange bedfellows. The recently leaked Rumsfeld memo, for instance, puts him on the same side--i.e., favoring withdrawal of at least some American forces--as many of the Democrats whom Republicans were labeling "Defeatocrats" just a month ago. Rumsfeld's position is, in a way, consistent with the view he has always held: he's never wanted to put in large numbers of U.S. troops; that's why he humbled Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff who said we'd need 300,000 troops for the operation.

What's missing from most of the debates on Iraq is any deep discussion about what is going to happen to that country. And I plead guilty to having aided and abetted. Look at some of my posts and you'll see that I have more or less assumed that the only possible result, whatever we do, is chaos, if not anarchy, with thousands and thousands of lives to be lost. I don't see another result as likely or even more than remotely possible, but I must admit that I should be spending more energy on what might happen in Iraq before taking a hard and fast position on what the United States should do. We're talking about people's lives after all, and policy decisions that could affect us for a decade, maybe two. We should give the matter more thought than the administration did before deciding to invade.

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