I'm sure super-smart Iraq expert Joe Biden -- who once advocated partitioning the country into three discrete nation-states, and whose conspicuous lack of involvement in the withdrawal timeline process -- has a perfect read on the situation. Compare-and-contrast post number two:
(1) In defending the administration's (totally coincidental!) decision to withdraw virtually all US troops from Iraq just prior to the 2012 election, Vice President Biden insisted that Iraq is fully capable of marching toward a peaceful and prosperous future without a meaningful US presence on the ground:
Vice President Joe Biden said Thursday "we're not claiming victory" in Iraq, but he believes the emerging government in Baghdad is capable of defending itself. Interviewed on NBC's "Today" show from Iraq, Biden was asked about the impact of the U.S. combat troop withdrawal, likely to be complete within weeks. He replied, "This is no rush." Biden added that in the three years of the Obama administration, "We've done this in a way that nobody thought could be done." The vice president said there is no validity now to "the idea that there is sufficient capacity to bring down this government, to fundamentally alter this democratic process that is under way."
(2) You know who doesn't share Biden's sanguine assessment? The United States' chief watchdog on Iraq's reconstruction -- ie, the person whose job it is to monitor and analyze these sorts of questions:
Iraq lacks formidable air and border defenses, suffers weaknesses in its military supply chain, and may face difficulties defending itself after U.S. troops exit at year’s end, the top American watchdog in the country warns. “As we pull out of Iraq, the Iraqis will have a difficult time replacing the U.S. role in intelligence, logistics, and air defense,” Stuart Bowen, the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction, said in an interview.
Bowen, whose job has been to raise red flags about the U.S. mission rebuilding Iraq over the past eight years, said U.S. trainers have made great strides in professionalizing the Iraqi army and national police since their mission began in 2003. But he also warned that the planned pullout will leave Iraq without a functioning air force and that it remains to be seen how the military will acquit itself if engaged while deployed in the field. “Whether they can sustain themselves if called upon for significant field operations is a big question mark,” Bowen said.
Meh. I, for one, remain supremely confident that our all-knowing Vice President has this all figured out. The fact that he and the president adopted an unmistakable hands-off approach to the complex, yet crucial, US withdrawal negotiations (even as they faltered) isn't relevant to that belief. Nor is the fact that the Obama White House has scheduled our final draw-down to coincide with the presidential election season (ours, not Iraq's). After all, it would be an abject disgrace for a Commander-in-Chief to imperil all the hard-fought gains in that country -- for which America has sacrificed much precious blood and treasure -- in order to score a few fleeting electoral points, even if the polls say it's a political winner. I can't envision this president even considering such a thing. Can you?
UPDATE - Commentary's Max Boot explains why Biden's comment is truly appalling.