A Lose-Lose Problem
George Packer talks (grim) sense in this week's New Yorker. Read the whole thing (it's not long), but if not, here's the gist in four excerpts:
What America will gain in return for leaving Iraq, according to Murtha and other Democrats, will be the holy grail of realism: stability. "They have more confidence in their people than they do in ours," Murtha said of the Iraqis. "And I’m convinced there’ll be more stability, less chaos." Former Senator George S. McGovern recently laid out a plan, in an essay he co-wrote in Harper’s, that amounts to a series of non sequiturs: American withdrawal, followed by the evaporation of the insurgency, followed by an influx of foreign police, followed by American-funded reconstruction.The issue also sports a somewhat depressing (but pretty) Thanksgiving-themed cover by Chris Ware:
It is true that the presence of American troops is a source of great tension and violence in Iraq, and that overwhelming numbers of Iraqis want them to leave. But it is also true that wherever American troop levels have been reduced—in Falluja and Mosul in 2004, in Tal Afar in 2005, in Baghdad in 2006—security has deteriorated.
The argument that Iraq would be better off on its own is a self-serving illusion that seems to offer Americans a win-win solution to a lose-lose problem. Like so much about this war, it has more to do with politics here than reality there.
We may have to accept that the disintegration of Iraq is irreversible and America’s last remaining interest will be to leave. If so, we shouldn’t deepen the insult by pretending that we’re doing the Iraqis a favor. Even realism has an obligation to be realistic.