21 November 2005

Time to Leave

Paul Krugman writes:

The fact is that we're not going to stay in Iraq until we
achieve victory, whatever that means in this context.
At most, we'll stay until the American military can take
no more.

Mr. Bush never asked the nation for the sacrifices -
higher taxes, a bigger military and, possibly, a revived
draft - that might have made a long-term commitment
to Iraq possible. Instead, the war has been fought on
borrowed money and borrowed time. And time is
running out. With some military units on their third tour
of duty in Iraq, the superb volunteer army that Mr.
Bush inherited is in increasing danger of facing a
collapse in quality and morale similar to the collapse of
the officer corps in the early 1970's.

So the question isn't whether things will be ugly after
American forces leave Iraq. They probably will. The
question, instead, is whether it makes sense to keep
the war going for another year or two, which is all the
time we realistically have.

Pessimists think that Iraq will fall into chaos whenever
we leave. If so, we're better off leaving sooner rather
than later. As a Marine officer quoted by James Fallows
in the current Atlantic Monthly puts it, "We can lose in
Iraq and destroy our Army, or we can just lose."