The Malaysia Option
Sunday’s Washington Post has a story, “U.S. Lowers Sights On What Can Be Achieved in Iraq:”
The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq, recognizing that the United States will have to settle for far less progress than originally envisioned during the transition due to end in four months, according to U.S. officials in Washington and Baghdad.
Washington now does not expect to fully defeat the insurgency before departing, but instead to diminish it, officials and analysts said. There is also growing talk of turning over security responsibilities to the Iraqi forces even if they are not fully up to original U.S. expectations, in part because they have local legitimacy that U.S. troops often do not.
The story is getting a lot of play, and I’d like to add a bit.
When the British were fighting the communist insurgency in Malaysia, on top of their hearts and minds campaign, one of their most potent weapons was a promise to withdraw, but only after the insurgency had ended.
It seems to me that this is the perfect move for the United States in Iraq. Some (fixed) time period after the last civilians are killed, the United States will fully withdraw all our troops. This puts the native portions of the insurgency in a bind: If their goal is to expel the United States, all they need to do is wait.
It gives the Iraqis time to build a civil government, free of attacks. If there are people whose goal is simply to kill Americans, it isolates them.
If only I had any confidence in the ability of the Bush administration to administer a foreign policy.