Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Different, But the Same

[posted by Callimachus]

Alerted by this E.J. Dionne column, I went to the Web site of the Center for a New American Security to see the paper he described on a strategy for American retreat from Iraq. The Center is, well, "centrist," having on its staff names of both nonideological Republicans and Democrats-who-really-have-done-foreign-policy.

Here is the short version of the three-point recommendation:

Even as forces in Iraq are drawn down, the U.S. has enduring interests in that besieged country and the surrounding region, and these interests will require a significant military presence there for the foreseeable future. These vital long-term U.S. interests in Iraq can be boiled down to Three No’s: no regional war; no al Qaeda safe havens; and no genocide.

  • No Regional War: The United States has an enduring interest in Iraq’s internal chaos not triggering regional conflict, and in external actors not further exacerbating Iraq’s civil war.

  • No Al Qaeda Safe Havens: The U.S. has an enduring interest in preventing Iraq from resembling Afghanistan on September 10th, 2001.

  • No Genocide: The U.S. has an enduring interest in preventing genocide in Iraq.

That's not a bad starting list. But I'm not sure how largely it differs from what we're doing now, except on entirely ditching the more hopeful "nation-building" part of the mission, which was the icing on our neo-con cake.

It seems to involve us in refereeing a civil war like a pro wrestling match: Check the turnbuckles, make sure everyone fights by the rules, no foreign objects in the ring.

All the while pretending to be disengaged.

And pretending they won't keep shooting at us.

Frankly, I liked this cake better with the icing on it. Still, I applaud them for trying.