Out of Iraq

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In the wake of the Bush administration’s sort of announcement that it has plans to draw down troops from Iraq by the end of 2006, here are two worthwhile posts on the subject, by Dan Darling and Mark Safranski—both conservatives. It really does seem that the wretched state of the Reserves and the National Guard, along with GOP concerns about the 2006 midterms, is the main driver here.

As to what comes next, I won’t try to predict. John Robb thinks the U.S. is going to stage a “controlled chaos exit,” relying on Shiite and Kurdish paramilitaries to keep order as the Iraqi state dissolves. Ayad Allawi is worried that death squads will run rampant. Juan Cole reports that the U.S. may make a stronger push to negotiate with Sunni insurgents. And Seymour Hersh is reporting that the U.S. will continue to use massive airpower to bomb insurgents, and whoever else happens to get in the way, after the draw-down. Understandably, he—along with a number of Air Force officers, apparently—thinks this is a bad idea.

Well, maybe any or all of those things will come to pass. Nadezhda seems to have the best prediction here, though: “[F]or at least the next six months, it’s hard not to predict a continued absence of a clear strategy. In turn, that means a continued reliance on messy improvisation, with the quality of outcomes in part dependent on the talents of various improvisers.” How does the saying go? “I don’t see any method at all here, sir.”

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