What To Do In Iraq

WHAT TO DO IN IRAQ….Foreign Affairs magazine published a piece by Stephen Biddle a few months ago called “Seeing Baghdad, Thinking Saigon,” in which he argued that comparisons of Iraq to Vietnam are fatally flawed. Iraq is a communal civil war, not a nationalist war, he says, and counterinsurgency and “Iraqization” won’t work.

Biddle’s piece in turn spawned a roundtable of responses in the current issue of the magazine, and this in turn spawned a set of responses to the responses from Christopher Hitchens, Fred Kaplan, Marc Lynch, and me. You can find them here.

Hitchens aside ? since he appears not to have even read the roundtable pieces and instead simply banged out a random column on Iraq ? the most remarkable thing about the responses is that everyone seems to agree that (a) we’re virtually powerless to affect events in Iraq and (b) none of the proposals by the roundtable authors are remotely practical. Despite this, none of my fellow responders support even a phased and prudent withdrawal of U.S. troops. Apparently we are to stay in Iraq forever despite the inability of anyone to produce a plan for victory that inspires even minimal confidence.

More on this later.