Friday, July 18, 2008

The Risks of Time Tables

For as much as Republicans have always insisted that using a time table for withdrawing troops from Iraq is a mistake, I've never really seen any sort of explanation on why that is.  It's always this sort of macho "Never let them know your plans" sort of thing, but that's total bullshit.  I mean, Saddam knew we were going in and that didn't help the guy at all.  And if it doesn't hurt us to tell them when we're invading, I fail to see why it's so horrible if they have a general idea of when we're leaving.  Particular not when they want to see us leave.  

And that's one of the weird things: Conservatives know that the people attacking us want us to leave, and yet they somehow imagine that us leaving would make these people attack us more, which forces us to stay longer.  The smartest thing the terrorists, and Al Qaeda Iraq, and the Iranians, and all the other bad guys could do is let us get the hell out of there as quickly as possible, so they could move in.  Nor would they want to bring the fight here to America, because that would just make us invade them again.  They want us gone, and the sooner, the better.

And really, this has got to be the reason why Republicans never actually explain the problems with time tables.  It's just this general assertion that is considered by them to be self-evident common sense, mainly because they can never really explain it.  It just feels right, because it must be right.  If this wasn't true, it'd undermine everything they say about Iraq, which is the precise reason they'll never even try to explain it.  It must be true.  

But as we all know, it's not time tables they're against, but withdrawing at all.  Either we're pulling all our guys out on the first plane out of the country, or we're stuck there for an unspecified time which will be far enough in the future that we can't set a date, but not so long that it sounds like a long time.  They know "one hundred years" is political-death for them, yet they refuse to rule anything out.  

Risks Explained

But finally, I thought I found some sort of explanation of why giving a time table would be bad.  It was an analysis piece from Jonathan Allen of CQ entitled: The Risks of Obama's Iraq Strategy.  Surely this would be the grand explanation I've been waiting for all these years.

But alas, for as much as I read the whole thing, it never really explained what the risks were.  It basically said that Republicans think it's a huge mistake, as well as some pro-war lefties (assuming the Washington Post and Michael O'Hanlon can be called "lefties).  It also mentioned that voter opinion is split as to whether time tables are a good idea, though a strong majority thinks the war is a bad idea.  And finally, it mentioned that this could be bad for Obama if things start to turn around in Iraq when he's pulling out troops.  And that's it.  That's all they wrote, and it mainly focused on Republicans asserting that it's a bad idea and that they'll attack Obama for it.

And so it looks like my quest to find out why time tables are dangerous isn't over yet.  I'm just seeing more of the same recycled pap asserting that time tables are bad, but no explanation for why.  But again, I guess that's really the point.  It's true because it needs to be true, not because there's any rationale to it.  For conservatives, truth is a luxury they often can't afford.

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