The way forward in Iraq

(The President said the war has been difficult but he said it's vital we succeed. [Bush clip]. TD, What are the stakes in Iraq?) TD: I think his speech is simplistic and I think if anything he underestimates an Al Qaeda victory. GO: what is a free Iraq? We don't know. We're sitting on top of a civil war and one side will eventually win. Al Qaeda was not in Iraq before we were there. So we need to get out to have Al Qaeda leave. Once we leave, Al Qaeda will be butchered. Being anti-American is going to be essential with legitimacy. We have no touch with the reality on the ground. TD: what I see and GO see is irreconcilable. Iraqi Sheikhs say if you leave us, things will go to hell, which has been a consistent message from them. WO: the Iraqis say they want us to stay, they don't want to fight the civil war. We're putting huge amounts of money in there. Once we stop paying the sheikhs, they won't be for us. this will not prevent the eventual civil war. (so you're saying there's going to be a civil war no matter what?) WO: eventually, are we going to stay there forever? Eventually they'll wear us down. There's more of them. What I hear in TD and the President's argument is like, have the drunk man drink more to sober up. Neither he nor the President want to face that we'll have a defeat. We need to leave Iraq first, I don't think the aftermath will be so bad. I've talked to Turks who talked about when the Ottomans pull out: they say the Sheikhs will start cutting deals amongst themselves. There will be violence but it might not be as bad in terms of violence. The Iranian influence won't be as bad. There's more mythology about what's going to happen if we get out and not much clear thinking. TD: to say we're facing an inevitable defeat flies in the face of the experience of the last defeat. WO is talking as if the last year didn't happen. Our presence there has had an effect. If we leave, that will have an effect, a bad one. When you have a strategically vital country like Iraq which is asking you to stay, we'd be strategically fools to walk away from that.

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