It just occurred to me. While most anti war politicians have called for a pullout of one sort or another, none have turned that pull out into a specific plan. Whether this is by accident or design, it has the effect of countering reality with utopia. Many times the opposition has countered the reality of Iraq with some sort of utopia. For instance, Hillary Clinton did it when she called for the ouster of Prime Minister Maliki without endorsing another candidate or explaining how this would be done.
Today, Barack Obama will reveal his pullout plan and no longer will we need to compare reality with some sort of utopia.
His plan is an unmitigated disaster good for nothing more than a thought experiment. That is exactly how it was described by Fredrick Kagan.
I don't know if Obama himself ever leveled this charge, but one of the criticisms of Bush's Iraq policy was framed as the whack a mole arguement. Whack A Mole is a game with five holes in which five moles pop up one at a time and the object is to pop each mole back in its place as it pops out of its hole. The metaphor is that as we cleared one trouble spot the enemy would just clear out and move to another spot or after we pulled back to our bases the enemy would return.
In fact, our new strategy of clear, hold and build assures that this error is corrected. Yet, despite the obvious flaw in our previous system Obama's pull out plan ensures that once again we will play Whack A Mole only in reverse.
Obama wants to pull out brigades and battalions in phases starting with the quietest areas. The flaw is obvious. These areas are quiet specifically because U.S. troops are there in conjunction with Iraqis. Let's take Ramadi for instance. This used to be one of the most violent cities in the world, and now it is so quiet that soldiers actually complain of boredom. Obama hasn't specified which quiet area goes first but let's say it is Ramadi.
What does any reasonable person think the enemy would do as soon as U.S. soldiers are pulled out of Ramadi. They would return and return it to its previous violence. What of our allies in Ramadi: the local government, the Sheiks, tribes, and ordinary citizens. Do they follow our soldiers out of Ramadi. If so, how? If they don't what will happen to them?
They will get slaughtered of course. They won't just get slaughtered but their slaughter will most likely be posted on the internet, Al Jazeera, and anywhere else that will have their propaganda.
Once Ramadi turns into a bloodbath, then what. Will we move our soldiers from another quiet area to Ramadi? That of course will inevitably turn the next area into the next bloodbath.
This is the absurdly fatal flaw of Obama's pull out plan. It fails to realize why certain areas are quiet. Furthermore, it is totally duplicitous. If he believes that all quiet areas will continue to be quiet whether U.S. soldiers are there or not, then the only logical thing to do is to continue to apply man power to any spot that isn't quiet. After all there are only a finite number of troubled areas left. Once all of those are pacified, he could logically call for a phased pull out.
There are several other problems with his plan,
He wants forces to remain in Iraq to protect our embassies, military installations, and strike at Al Qaeda. First, the best way to do all of this is to stay on the offensive. Pulling out is a defensive strategy. Second, as I have already pointed out, AQ would simply fill the vacuum of any area that our troops would be pulled back from. If we pulled out of Ramadi, AQ would move into Ramadi. What does Obama propose that we then move a residual force back into Ramadi? From where? Wherever it came from, AQ would simply fill the vacuum there.
Then, Obama would put pressure on other Middle Eastern nations to provide security and diplomacy in Iraq. Does he seriously think that anyone is going to listen to anything we say with regards to Iraq as we pull out troops and spiral the country into chaos and genocide. Obama seems to think that other countries aren't doing enough while our troops are there en masse, but will become good partners while we are in the process of washing our hands of the nation.
As to genocide, Obama says he will reserve the right to step in if a genocide ensues. What a foolish statement. He will first create a genocide in a city like Ramadi and then reserve the right to pull forces back in to stop the same genocide that he created. How exactly would that work? Who in their right mind would trust our soldiers after they witness their brethren get slaughtered because they were precipitously withdrawn?
The problem is that Obama fails to realize that you don't end wars with phased withdrawals. They are won or lost. He is dressing up his loss into some high minded concepts that he himself doesn't really understand. The enemy is not going to sit on the sidelines while we withdraw in an orderly fashion. They will take full advantage of it, and our troops along with our allies will be caught in the chaos that follows. There is nothing orderly or responsible about this plan. This is a recipe for a humiliating defeat, a genocide, and ultimately a regional war that we will not be able to contain.