Sunday, August 26, 2007

Matthew Yglesias: my hero

I've long been frustrated by the instinctive way the Generals respond to the inadequacy of the resources that they've been assigned, by projecting a very, very long time-frame to complete their "mission".

I can't help, but notice how it plays into a stab-in-the-back narrative: the Democrats, who want to withdraw are accused of wanting to set a "surrender date", as if we can't fail until we admit failure, and the admission of failure is the cause of failure.

Matthew Yglesias, bless his little heart, steps by this narrative blockade, to re-frame the General's view.

Matthew Yglesias: "General Petraeus thinks he's making so much progress that the war will need to continue twice as long again as it's already gone on. More to the point, once you're looking at that kind of time frame, all forecasts are nonsensical. We could leave tomorrow and ten years might be plenty of time for Iraq to descend deeper into civil war, for the civil war to end, and then for stability to emerge."

And, here's the money shot: "To say that our current policy is working and needs just ten more years to stabilize Iraq is lunacy -- just leaving stands a perfectly good chance of working just as quickly at radically lower cost."

I fully expect General Petraeus will be back to projecting no more than a Friedman Unit at a time, in his testimony before Congress in September. But, if not, these projections of 10 years in Iraq are a code the Democrats can work with. And, Yglesias shows how: doing nothing is a good "long-shot" strategy for a ten-year time period, and less costly than Bush's "long-shot" strategy.

Good-bye, permanent bases.

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