July 24, 2008

Iraq:  The Money Pit

Iraq is the foreign policy equivalent of a money pit.  Success is always just around the corner, if only we give the general contractor another few grand to pay for some supplies, back taxes, or whatever.  Transferring sovereignty, elections, “standing up” Iraq troops, Sunni Awakening, and now the Surge all were championed as signal events that “prove” success is just around the corner. 

On one level, the Surge has been successful in tamping down violence.  On a strategic level, however, it has not led the Iraqis to resolve a number of thorny issues which give a pretext to any Iraqi faction to attack the government and reignite the extreme level of violence witnessed in 2005 and 2006.  Mainstream journalist Steven Chapman asks a question that I don’t believe McCain would have a good answer to:

Despite creeping toward withdrawal himself, McCain continues to lambaste Obama for setting a timetable. But if the current policy is the stunning success depicted by McCain, it should be eminently practical to turn Iraq over to the Iraqis by the middle of 2010. If it is impossible to do that, more than seven years after the occupation began, how can McCain say the existing strategy is working?

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