Over at Democracy Arsenal, Max writes, “No one, not Crocker or Petraeus can describe what success looks like. When asked by Levin, if all went well what would be an optimistic projection of U.S. troops levels at the end of 2008. Petraeus refuses to answer, saying he can’t know. So he won’t make projections of what success will look like. But both Crocker and Petraeus have absolutely no qualms about projecting the future if we withdrawal from Iraq.”
That’s been the striking thread running through these hearings. There are no benchmarks for success, no metrics that control our troop levels or departure. If al Qaeda is strong and sectarian violence is high, we have to stay and fight. If al Qaeda is weak and sectarian violence is low, we have to stay and protect those gains. It’s heads we stay, tails we never leave.
And that’s not even getting into the Iran side of all this, which Lieberman is currently hyping. Look: Iran borders Iraq. They’re always going to be there. Iraq, like Iran, is majority Shiite. The dominant party in Iraq, the one we support, is an Iranian proxy. If we can’t leave until Iran has no influence in Iraq, we can literally never leave. This is like China demanding that we sever our relationship with Canada. Hell, given the weaker nation-states in the Middle East, it’s like China insisting Mississippi sever its relationship with Louisiana. You can insist till you’re blue in the face, but the neighbor will be there long after the invader.