Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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August 26, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

CLARK AND IRAQ....As an admirer of Wes Clark, I read his proposal for Iraq in today's Washington Post with interest. Clark is opposed to setting a date for pulling out, and after the usual litany of criticisms of Bush adminstration policy he offers a plan of his own. Here are the highlights:

The United States should form a standing conference of Iraq's neighbors....public U.S. declaration forswearing permanent bases in Iraq.

On the political side....Constitution....no Kurdish vote on independence, a restricted role for Islam and limited autonomy in the south. And no private militias....Monies promised for reconstruction simply must be committed and projects moved forward.

On the military side....train police and local justices....Canada, France and Germany should be engaged to assist....must return primarily to the tried-and-true methods of counterinsurgency....Ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency should be recruited to assist as interpreters....Over time U.S. forces should be pulled back into reserve roles and phased out.

Unfortunately, I agree with Matt Yglesias: none of this really seems very doable:

Would Iraq's neighbors really want to cooperate in such a venture? "[N]o private militias" would, of course, be fantastic, but how do you achieve that? "Ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency should be recruited to assist as interpreters," but do ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency want to go? You get the general idea.

Still, since the administration's current approach seems almost guaranteed to fail, Clark's plan is at least worth a try. Regardless of the details, though, I continue to think that any plan that doesn't include firm goals and deadlines even though I recognize they wouldn't always be met is less likely to succeed than one that does have them. That's Management 101.

So: we should implement Clark's plan, or something similar, but we should make the plan credible by attaching firm public metrics to it and insisting that we measure our success against them. I wouldn't hire a contractor to install a new kitchen without goals and schedules. Why does anyone think we should fight a war with less?

Kevin Drum 12:30 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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