STRAW MEN….David Ignatius today:

Getting into Iraq was President Bush’s decision, and history will judge his administration harshly for its mistakes in the postwar occupation. But getting out of Iraq is now partly in the hands of the Democrats who control both houses of Congress. History will be equally unforgiving if their agitation for withdrawal results in a pell-mell retreat that causes lasting damage.

Can we please cut the crap? There are virtually no Democrats — and certainly none with any real influence — who are advocating a pell-mell retreat. But for some reason every columnist in the world seems to find it necessary to warn us against this nonexistent straw man. Why?

Those of us who want to leave want to do it in an orderly way. If the Pentagon says it will take 12 months, that’s fine. 18 months? Also fine. It just needs to be real. Nobody wants to endanger any American lives by ignoring legitimate force protection issues, and I’m really, really tired of lazy writers who continually imply otherwise on no basis at all. Knock it off.

POSTSCRIPT: The rest of the column is about whether we should withdraw completely or whether we should leave a residual “training force” in Iraq. That’s fine. It’s a genuine argument. It would, however, be a far more genuine argument if Ignatius and others explained how the residual force actually had any chance of accomplishing anything. As Stephen Biddle persuasively argued yesterday, it’s one of those things that’s politically attractive but militarily untenable. In fact, I’d say it’s the worst possible option available.

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