LEAVING IRAQ….Michael Duffy of Time makes me bang my head on the wall:

What’s needed is not the sloganeering of certain politicians but a clear-eyed, multifaceted policy. That would involve making plain to the Iraqi government our intention to pull back, followed by an orderly withdrawal of about half the 160,000 troops currently in Iraq by the middle of 2008. A force of 50,000 to 100,000 troops would dig in for a longer stay.

….[The Levin-Reed Amendment calls] on the Administration to begin withdrawing the bulk of U.S. troops within 120 days and leave an unstated number behind to go after terrorists and protect the U.S. embassy in Baghdad….But even if Congress approved Levin-Reed, military logistics experts say it would take far longer than 120 days to redeploy even half of U.S. forces. The reality is that it’s difficult to get out fast….

For starters, I’m going to ignore Duffy’s self-congratulatory suggestion that his split-the-difference arm waving is self-evidently a “clear-eyed, multifaceted policy.” Honest. I’m just going to ignore it. See? Ignoring it. Ignoring it. Ignoring it.

OK then. Riddle me this. How is it that Duffy can correctly state that Levin-Reed requires withdrawal to begin within 120 days and then, two sentences later, imply that Levin-Reed requires withdrawal to be finished within 120 days? WTF?

But really, it’s even worse. It’s true that the current text of Levin-Reed requires all but a residual force to leave Iraq by April 2008. But Duffy knows perfectly well that if Republicans were seriously willing to discuss withdrawal, Democrats would change that date in a heartbeat based on military counsel. Duffy knows this. No Democrat wants to withdraw any faster than military planners say is safe. So why does he imply otherwise?

A better piece would have simply told the truth: nobody is in favor of a “reckless U.S. departure.” Everyone agrees that withdrawal needs to be handled prudently and safely. That would have taken a paragraph or two, and then Duffy could have devoted the rest of the article to the real issue: whether we should (a) withdraw completely or (b) withdraw partially and leave 75,000 troops in Iraq forever. As it is, he dismisses total withdrawal in a couple of sentences, despite the fact that plenty of experts think it’s a perfectly feasible option, and mentions none of the drawbacks of his favored policy of partial withdrawal. It’s practically a hymn to an idea that’s almost certainly unsustainable, unnecessary, and counterproductive. Nice job, Time.