Thursday, June 30, 2005


On "Exit Timetables"

A lot of blather has been heard lately about "exit timetables" for Iraq -- when are we leaving, and how soon can we make the announcement? My feeling is that the President had it exactly right:
Some contend that we should set a deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces. Let me explain why that would be a serious mistake. Setting an artificial timetable would send the wrong message to the Iraqis — who need to know that America will not leave before the job is done. It would send the wrong message to our troops — who need to know that we are serious about completing the mission they are risking their lives to achieve. And it would send the wrong message to the enemy — who would know that all they have to do is to wait us out. We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed — and not a day longer.
But an even more detailed response to this -- better worded than I would have done, certainly -- can be found at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler's place. For example:
This wildly successful tactic even works with games like chess, where if you announce in mid-game that you have to leave in twenty minutes the opponent can just slow down his moves and wait you out. Indeed, the technique is so fabulously effective at producing defeat that all normal games have to have special rules to ensure that both sides quit at the same time. Otherwise, every game of soccer, football, baseball, or basketball would be won by the team that decided to stay on the court and keep on scoring after the other team goes home.
More to the point, an "exit timetable" would allow the anti-war crowd to continue to paint the war as a failure -- after all, we left without winning, didn't we? -- while painting their own activities as successful. A win-win from their point of view... if you discount such minor distractions as Americans dying for nothing, emboldening the ones who want to kill us, and so forth.

By all means, read the whole thing; it won't take you long.


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