Sunday, December 11, 2005

None of the Above

If you want to paint a negative picture of a problem, one method is to provide a series of poor potential solutions. The N&O tackles the Iraq problem by providing these four "choices:" Stay the Course, Set a Timetable, Add Troops, Leave Now.

They try to shoehorn the Bush administration position into Stay the Course and imply that means no change to the current situation. Given that most Americans are unsatisfied with the current situation, the paper effectively paints a negative view of the administration.

The mistake the paper makes is to view the Stay the Course option as a static one, when in fact it is a strategy dependent upon its flexibility. The Stay the Course strategy has an endpoint of a stable and free Iraq with security provided by Iraqis and U.S. forces playing a minimal role.

The other 3 options presented are potentially parts of the Stay the Course strategy, but they are not a strategy in and of themselves. We have completed, and are currently in the middle of the Add Troops segment because we have plussed up for the election. We eventually will reach the Leave Now option once Iraqis can provide for their own security. And we are constantly shifting our numbers and timing of Set a Timetable as we plan for a drawdown based on various contingencies.

So the proper analysis would be to concede that the Bush administration strategy is the only feasible one at present, and the critics are just trying to get ahead of the future moves (in order to claim that their advocacy had something to do with a pullout) or gain political points by acting like one of their statements is an alternative to what we are doing.