What would happen to America's image abroad if U.S. troops withdrew from Iraq? Khalilzad answered: "That would be a disaster in my mind." And: "Weakness is very provocative."
Many fear violence between Sunni and Shiites, Turks and Kurds, and extremist Iraqis and moderate Iraqis who cooperated with U.S. troops.
Sen. Chris Dodd was in San Francisco Sunday. When I asked him what would happen to America's image abroad if we withdrew from Iraq in, say, 18 months, Dodd observed that nothing is certain, but: "I think we enhance the image."
The troops surge has not brought about political reconciliation. The world, Dodd surmised, would respect a nation that recognizes it is "traveling down the wrong road."
That is the fundamental difference between the pro-war and anti-war camps on Iran and Iraq. One side argues that Americans must show themselves big enough to admit a mistake. The other side believes that losing doesn't win many friends or mollify many enemies.
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