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July 25, 2008

McCain's 16-Month Timetable Goal

Athough this can be twisted against McCain, and undermines his previous pronouncements that such a fast schedule was unfeasible, hey, when conditions and facts change, policy can (and often should) change as well.

It's not clear to me the war is over. The stabilization of Iraq seems almost irreversible. Almost.

But barring any major (and sustained) renewal of terrorist violence, there's not really a particularly compelling reason to keep more troops in Iraq than are necessary.

The key word there is "necessary." McCain suggest that, if troops are no longer necessary, a sixteen month (or, more likely, two year) withdrawal will be good policy. The gym rat opposing him wants to bug out whether or not we're leaving a stable Iraq behind, with a military capable of handling all internal (and most external) threats, and would, if he had his druthers, expedite the process to make certain we left behind a disintegrating Iraq.

Will we need troops in Iraq in sixteen months? I have no idea and I doubt people who actually know what they're talking about know, either. But I do think it's not unrealistic, or over-optimistic, to imagine an Iraq which is more or less free of substantial violence or threats to government control within, who knows, a scant six months.

Bear in mind, Obama has been proposing withdrawal -- surrender -- since 2005. He was most energetic about pushing his withdrawal plans when it was most likely to result in an Al Qaeda victory. He only mentions it almost apologetically now, now that victory is nearly at hand.

McCain (and all conservatives) have always wanted out of Iraq as soon as possible... after victory was achieved. Which is the goal in any war.

Well, victory is nearly achieved. Six months from now, who knows, it may be officially declared, and not in the Democrats "declare a catastrophic failure a victory and go home sense" either. No, our troops, and the growing Iraqi forces, might just have this particular coonskin nailed to the wall in six months.

Or even three months.

And given that very real possibility, who can discount a 16-month withdrawal of most combat troops? Difficult to manage, I'm sure, but our troops will be presumably 1) coming home in victory, not harassed by serious enemy gunfire as they disembark and 2) are probably pretty motivated to get home as quickly as possible.

I don't think 16 months is terribly realistic or likely. But that basic timeframe -- 16 months, 18 months, two years -- sure seems a lot more likely than it did at any point during the war.

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posted by Ace at 08:55 PM

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