There is a popular theory these days that the pressure of an American withdrawal will force Iraqis to reach some kind of accommodation with one another. This would be more plausible had it not already been disproved by three years of painful experience. The United States has been promising to withdraw from Iraq since the beginning of the war, and the only result has been to drive Iraqis closer and closer to sectarian conflict.
I think Kristol/Kagan are confusing the carrot with the stick here. For the last three years, the talk about leaving Iraq has been more on their terms than ours. Once security is achieved, then troop withdraw will begun. So if I'm an Iraqi and don't really want to take responsibility for my country and my new found freedoms, I don't have to - American troops will remain to take care of it for me.
Now, the incentive has changed. Withdrawing troops is not an if/then statement, but now a reality. We tell the Iraqis we are leaving not based on anything other than the fact that we will do it. And there is no more cover of American troops for those Iraqis who want peace and freedom but do not want to fight for it. They must step up as we step down, and not the other way around. And if we see they are serious about fighting for their country, our troops are nearby, and if they must return, they can. Kristol and Kagan
If we wanted to try something truly novel, we would tell Iraqis that the United States did not intend to withdraw until the insurgency was defeated and the sectarian militias were disarmed.
Much like the war on drugs, the war on crime, the war on poverty, and the war on the so-called liberal media, there will never be an end. The insurgency will not be defeated simply through brute force. If that were a possibility, then we would not see Al Qaeda in Iraq "more dangerous than ever
" after three years of our presence there. I'm not sure why this is so hard to comprehend.
But, I'm afraid, they do get this part correct
There is no getting around the fact that under present conditions, an American military withdrawal, even if undertaken gradually, will bring about the rapid collapse of Iraq.
The caveat is, this statement seems true well into the future. Even if Kristol's and Kagan's magical troops appear
, I'm doubtful they will be able to much toward the end of a peaceful, stable Iraq. There are too many forces at work in the country who are not looking for peace and stability. And until those forces see a benefit from those goals, they will continue to fight the forces that are working for them.