November 28, 2006
@ 02:49 AM

Scott Adams of Dilbert fame has a blog post entitled Complicated Decisions where he writes

There is also genuine concern for the fate of the Iraqis if we leave.  Yet, according to this opinion poll, 7 out of 10 Iraqis want us to pull out.

And so the decision about leaving Iraq can be boiled down to this:

1. American troops are dying.
2. It’s impossible to know if national security is best served by staying or leaving.
3. 7 out of 10 Iraqis want us to leave.
4. We have accomplished all that we KNOW we can accomplish. Anything else is guessing.
5. Iraq diverts resources from our higher priorities.

It’s impossible to know the RIGHT answer about Iraq. But it has become simple to know the RATIONAL path. Unlike a financial investment, where you might be willing to invest in a high risk/reward situation, you can’t diversify war. If the payoff isn’t obvious and predictable, the rational thing to do is pull out and minimize troop casualties. Any other path is just guessing.

Your disagreement is invited.

Back in 2003, I wrote a couple of blog posts where I disagreed with the plan to invade Irag because it set a bad precedent. The current state of affairs with almost 3,000 dead and over 20,000 injured U.S. troops along with the claim of over half a million Iraqis dead is worse than anything I imagined. Now that the invasion has happened I find myself unable to agree with either of the major sides in the U.S. debate on what the next steps should be.

On the one hand, there are the Cut and Run arguments such as what Scott Adams has made above which I mostly agree with. Except that it is quite likely that the situation in Iraq will likely devolve into a civil war and wholesale ethnic genocide if U.S. troops leave. Given that the U.S. invasion is the catalyst for the current state if affairs, I strongly believe that the U.S. has a responsibility to fix the country it has turned into a frightful warzone. On the other hand, the Stay the Course arguments have failed to sway me because it is quite clear that the situation in Iraq is more complex than the sound bites on Fox News would have one believe. Sometimes it seems there are five or six different sides battling it out; U.S. troops, Al Qaeda operatives, Sunni militia, Shi'ite militia, Iraqi government troops and foreign troops from neighboring countries. It is unclear to me exactly how the Stay the Course folks quantify victory in such a situation. Today I walked past a TV and saw some pundit on MSNBC asking which side the U.S. should fight alongside in the Iraqi civil war as if picking what outfit to wear to the prom. 

I've begun to lean more towards Scott Adams's position although I have difficulty with the U.S. initiating this bloodshed then just walking away from the results of its actions. What are your opinions on the next course of action the U.S. should take?