Monday, January 08, 2007

More Troops?

I've been digesting a good bit of opinion about "the way forward" in Iraq, as most of us have. I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of the dialog on both sides, and the clarity with which they have been able to present both their agreements and their differences.

From what I can tell, there are two predominant views at the moment; I will call them the McCain view and the Biden view, as convenient shortcuts. I will also try to summarize them very briefly. Feel free to correct and clarify in the comments.

The McCain view: A political solution in Iraq is necessary, but politics can only happen in a situation of security. We must send extra troops to Iraq to create a secure environment, in order for the Iraqi politicians to be able to move forward with political solutions to the underlying problems.

The Biden view: A military solution in Iraq is necessary, but if we keep waiting for the security situation to resolve itself (and keep committing more and more resources to try to make it happen), the Iraqi politicians will use that as an excuse to keep delaying. We must demand political advances before we consider any further military expenditures.

I find both of those arguments compelling. Frankly, I can only imagine deciding between them based on an intimate knowledge of the Iraqi political situation, the major political players in that process, and how those Iraqi politicians could be expected to react to various American actions. We certainly have to do something... and I just don't know enough to decide which of the above two options is the better.

My only hope is that the dialog about our options continues to be civil and productive, and doesn't dissolve into a sectarian political civil war within our own government. What an example for the Iraqis that would be.


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