Fortunately for all of us who missed APSA, Robert Farley has a summary of a panel on withdrawal options from the Iraqle. ((Thanks to MT for this suggestion. I mean, why say “Iraq debacle” when you can just say “Iraqle”?)) The panel featured James Wirtz of the Naval War College, John Mearsheimer, Juan Cole, and Stephen Biddle.
Biddle noted that the only intellectually defensible options regarding Iraq lie at the extremes–escalation or complete withdrawal. The former has little chance of success and complete withdrawal is preferable to virtually any scheme involving residual forces.
Mearsheimer argued that because of domestic politics and institutional dynamics we’ll still be there in five years and beyond. Quoting Robert now, referring to Mearshimer’s remarks:
Ten years ago, I doubt I would have believed that Mearsheimer’s critique of US foreign policy would essentially mirror a standard leftist perspective. There are differences, of course, but on Iraq Mearsheimer is making an argument that would fit very comfortably into the netroots… The stab-in-the-back narrative that’s being prepared by the Republican Party will succeed in scaring a Democratic president and Democratic congress from taking any decisive steps to end the war.
That last part shows as much as an concrete policy problem what is so fundamentally wrong with the two-party straitjacket and the presidential form of government, but in the presence of such death, destruction, and depression, I’m not in the mood to use the Iraqle to make the case against American political institutions. I leave it as an exercise for the interested reader.