President Barack Obama's military "pull-out" from Iraq as announced last week isn't what his campaign promised -- thank goodness.
Stripped of Obama drama -- the artful polemics, pulpit theatrics and packaged sizzle that marked his campaign and are his core political strength -- Obama's plan differs little from the Bush administration's.
Bush administration plans called for a phased transition from "more coalition security operations" to "fewer" based on the continuing, demonstrated improvement in the capabilities of Iraq's own military and police forces -- "rheostat" warfare is the term. Stabilizing, securing and extending the authority of Iraq's national government was an integral part of the process. As "fewer" combat operations nudged toward "zero," U.S. logistics and training support units would continue to assist Iraqi forces.
"No" combat operations was qualified. U.S. forces in the region would remain on "strategic overwatch" -- a "night light" for the Iraqi government, particularly useful when confronting Iranian finagling. U.S. special operations personnel would also continue to assist the Iraqis in conducting anti-terrorist operations.
Obama's "new plan" retains these elements.
Yet the president argues he is fulfilling a campaign pledge to pull out quickly, a pledge that intentionally and insistently echoed Sen. Harry Reid's, D-Nev., declaration that the war in Iraq was lost.
Reid's claim was stupid, nakedly partisan, deleterious to the war effort and demonstrably false.
Iraq's January provincial elections are another indicator that the emerging victory continues. The London Times reported Baghdad's nightclubs are open for business, noting, "... the burgeoning nightlife in the Iraqi capital is the most dramatic evidence so far that this city is returning to its old, pre-war ways ... ."
Booze, tarts and watering holes for Iraqi literati indicate progress of a sort -- one reporters can comprehend. I'll admit they were economic and social indicators I expected, for security and liberty permit the libertine, and security and liberty were the trend lines the likes of Harry Reid failed to see. In an ArenaUSA video filmed in May 2008, I pointed out another indicator of emerging victory in Iraq would be the return of Baghdad's nightlife.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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