TIMETABLES….The Bush administration has finally agreed on a timetable for troop withdrawals in Iraq:

Defense Secretary Robert Gates urged the Turkish military on Wednesday to abandon its invasion of guerrilla-controlled lands in the northernmost reaches of Iraq by mid-March.

…. “It’s very important that the Turks make this operation as short as possible and then leave,” Mr. Gates told reporters in India on Wednesday….”I measure quick in terms of days, a week or two, something like that, not months,” Mr. Gates said, becoming the first senior American official to demand a strict timeline for the Turkish operation to end.

Oops. Wrong troops. Sorry about that. But apparently it worked:

Turkey’s military operations against Kurdish guerrillas in northern Iraq will last another three or four days, a senior Turkish official said yesterday, after Washington called for a speedy end to the incursion….”Ten days will be a good enough time for the operation. It has been going on now for six or seven days, so another three or four days should wrap it up,” the official said.

Our concern, entirely reasonably, is that military action is predictably unpredictable and an extended intervention risks destabilizing northern Iraq and widening into a broader and deadlier conflict. I wonder why nobody thinks of this stuff when we’re the ones doing the intervening?

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