2007 September 28 Friday
Greg Cochran Says We Can Leave Iraq In A Hurry

I'm hearing Paul Simon sing "There must be fifty ways to leave your lover". Greg Cochran says we can get out of Iraq with everything important really fast and shouldn't leave a smaller core of troops behind.

First, we should aim to get our troops out safely, with their weapons intact. Weapons are important—we win more because of superior equipment than superior training or talent. That equipment is expensive, takes a long time to replace with our existing procurement system, and we might actually need it if we found ourselves in a war of necessity.

Second, we should forget about accomplishing anything else. If we couldn’t create a compliant Iraq with 150,000 troops, we won’t manage it with 50,000 or 20,000. Many of our presidential candidates—you can recognize them by the humps on their backs—are talking about retaining smaller numbers of troops in Iraq, hoping to achieve some political end or at least disguise defeat, but that pig won’t fly. Our forces are tremendously powerful (compared to the insurgents) and never lose battles, but leaving small residual forces in a fundamentally hostile country—a solid majority of non-Kurdish Iraqis now find attacks on coalition forces acceptable—is asking for trouble. The British tried that in Basra, and they took rocket and mortar fire every day while achieving nothing.

That's the problem with all partial withdrawal schemes: They basically reduce US troop numbers down to a level where our leaders can't even pretend they can still produce a positive outcome. With 160,000 troops Bush and supporters can produce so much action in some spots and so many events and changes in local trends in Iraq that they can pretend to be accomplishing something. Bush can't admit that the war is pointless. So he's got to keep as many troops there as he can manage in order to avoid admitting that he created a huge blunder and wasted many lives and much treasure in a pointless exercise.

As for the pointlessness of the war: This is where we are stuck. We need more national figures to admit the obvious. We don't have anything we can realistically hope to gain by remaining in Iraq. We aren't improving our national security by staying. If we really want to improve our national security we have real (and fairly easy) ways to improve that would be easier to afford if we weren't spending about $150 to $160 billion a year in Iraq.

Greg says it isn't worth the lives of American men to pull out the less valuable stuff.

The longer we stay, the more men we lose. How can anyone believe that piles of junk are worth anyone’s life? We could spend extra time in Iraq in order to ship home toxic waste, but we can do without that kind of cosmic irony. Better to gift-wrap those drums and let the Iraqis steal them. I say it again: bring out men, weapons, ammo, vital spares—leave the pews.

A fast withdrawal will cost fewer American lives than die there each month.

But we can be sure that the opposition will be insignificant and our casualties few, since the insurgents we face in Iraq would be extremely weak in a conventional fight. Remember that we lost fewer than 150 men during the invasion, when we faced 23 divisions, organized troops armed with (according to U.S. estimates) almost 2,000 main battle tanks, 3,500 armored personnel carriers, and 2,000 artillery pieces. The insurgents today have no tanks, no APCs, no heavy artillery, and yet we’re supposed to worry about the havoc they would wreak during any withdrawal. We’ve been seeing about 100 men a month killed in action in 2007, we’d lose fewer in a rapid withdrawal than we would by staying one more month.

The tanks can drive themselves excepting the ones that have broke down. The latter can be carried out on tank carriers or temporarily repaired just for one trip to Kuwait. The bulk of the vehicles can be driven out as well. We can stop sending as much supplies in as we prepare for the big withdrawal and start using regular supply run return trips to pull out some stuff while planning the massive movement of US soldiers and contractors down to Kuwait.

Read the full article.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2007 September 28 01:44 PM  Mideast Iraq Exit Debate

Alex said at September 28, 2007 5:33 PM:

Cochran once said here that we could be out in three weeks. This article now says 3-6 months. I'm curious if there's a reason for the difference or if the three weeks thing was just an exaggeration.

(The sooner the better, I say...)

gcochran said at September 28, 2007 5:44 PM:

I was allowing for both unknowns and unknown unknowns. Three weeks is feasible. 3-6 months is - conservative.

Wolf-Dog said at September 28, 2007 10:52 PM:

If the US attempts to leave Iraq in a hurry, then the interest of Al Qaeda and Iran will converge in one area: due to the necessity to prevent the Democrats from re-allocating these funds to alternative energy R & D, there will suddenly be another terrorist attack of the scale that equals or exceeds 9/11 , before the elections, to make sure that the Republicans stay in power, so that these funds are not diverted into alternative energy R & D.

James Bowery said at September 29, 2007 1:48 AM:

you can recognize them by the humps on their backs

That's got to be the funniest thing I've read this month.

Joseph Moroco said at September 29, 2007 5:44 AM:


911 was not successful due to the genius of AQ, but was an immigration policy failure.

Another 911 will not be due to the converging interests of Iran and AQ, but because we have not fixed the borders.

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