The interesting thing about the plan that leading Democrats now advocate for Iraq is that its essential element is the same as the essential element of the plan pursued by those we are fighting. It is that we withdraw.
Now, if the Democrats' plan is not domestic partisan posturing, but a calculation predicated on the national interest, there are at least three possible explanations for this remarkable coincidence.
One is that the fighting in Iraq now (as opposed to the original and now irreversible decision to invade) is just a big mistake, that the United States and those attacking us have no fundamental conflicts of interest and that if we simply disengage, the net result will be that things go well for both us and them.
A second possibility is that the Democrats are mistaken: If we withdraw, the net result will be things go well for them and bad for us. A third possibility is that our enemies are mistaken: If we withdraw, the net result will be things go well for us and bad for them.
Sen. Hillary Clinton, who wants to be commander in chief, makes the case for possibility three. When Gen. David Petraeus testified in the Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, she called for bringing our troops home.
"The administration and supporters of the administration's policy often talk about the costs of leaving Iraq, yet ignore the greater costs of continuing the same failed policy," she said. "It's time to begin an orderly process of withdrawing our troops, start rebuilding our military and focusing on challenges posed by Afghanistan, global terrorist groups and other problems that confront America."
Yet, since the 2006 elections, at least two ostensibly non-political authorities in the U.S. government have argued that withdrawing from Iraq would be bad for us. These authorities are the U.S. intelligence community and the U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus.
In a National Intelligence Estimate completed in January 2007, before the troop surge, the intelligence community painted a dire picture of what would happen if the United States withdrew within 12 to 18 months.