National Review Gives Two Cheers For Iraq Withdrawal
Speaking of dogs that haven’t barked about Obama’s Iraq withdrawal, National Review editorializes cautiously in favor of the plan. Once editor Rich Lowry called the Democrats “the party of defeat” for embracing timetables for withdrawal; now his magazine is implicitly accepting a defeat of its own:
Obama has said all along that he would listen to his commanders on the ground, and that’s apparently what he’s done, tailoring his preferred policy to address their concerns. The draw-down contemplated next year is probably still too rapid, but the plan is not irresponsible on its face.
The magazine doesn’t say why it thinks the draw-down is too rapid, but presumably it couldn’t run an editorial offering full-fledged support to a Democratic president. This is the route the editorial takes to square the circle:
Obama outlined a scheme for withdrawal not that different from the one George W. Bush left him. With the war ebbing in Iraq, it was inevitable that our force levels would come down.
Wrong on both counts. Obama did not inherit a “scheme” for withdrawal. What he inherited was a Status of Forces Agreement with a withdrawal timetable that Bush was outflanked by the Iraqis into accepting. Bush deserves credit for bowing to that reality, but the fact that the SOFA included a timetable at Iraqi insistence was most certainly not what he wanted. It did not include any formula for drawing down troops before 2011. Nor was it in fact “inevitable” that troop levels would in fact come down: had John McCain been elected president, he could have followed through on his campaign rhetoric and sought to revise the SOFA. Instead, he flip-flopped.
From Obama’s perspective — and the antiwar movement’s perspective — whatever path conservatives need to take to embrace withdrawal is welcome. The important thing is that conservatives who for years said that a timetable-based withdrawal would be a disaster have acquiesced to the left’s position.