Our number one Iraq expert: Little Orphan Annie.
"Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you, tomorrow, you're always a day away."
In their WBUR interview both O'Hanlon and Cordesman agreed that late winter/early spring would be the time to leave Iraq if there was minimal political conciliation. Cordesman:
If this central government cannot achieve real progress towards conciliation no later than the late winter or early spring of 2008, I frankly do not see it being able to survive.
If we don't get political conciliation by the end of this winter or next spring, then we have almost no rationale for staying, because there gets to be a point at which you simply cannot wait out the Iraqi political process forever.
(Checks watch) It appears that "late winter or early spring" is also known as "now." So how is that political conciliation coming along? Petraeus: Iraqi Leaders Not Making 'Sufficient Progress'
Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.
Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that "no one" in the U.S. and Iraqi governments "feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation," or in the provision of basic public services.
Cordesman's recent glorified PowerPoints say next to nothing about reconciliation at all, instead focusing almost entirely on the military situation. Cordesman, who previously produced "The Need For Strategic Patience", has now cleverly produced "The Continuing Need For Strategy Patience."
As we saw previously, O'Hanlon's main expertise on the Iraq War is lecturing those who disagree with him about what they are and aren't allowed to say. He's at it again, castigating Democrats in his best Karl Rove voice and warning that opposition to the Iraq War is a political liability. His recent writing is much less policy than politics:
To be sure, it is understandably hard for Democrats and other administration critics to believe that a war fought so badly at first could take a turn for the better.
That said, if Democrats cannot get beyond their viewpoint, they could suffer badly in the fall as a result.
Democrats can provide such a melded approach. If Iraqis do their part, we help; if not, we leave.
As such, Iraqi leaders need to feel pressure to deliver. That is where a more conditional Democratic approach comes in. The United States stays only if Iraqis accelerate their own political efforts at reconciliation.
Do those bolded parts look familiar to anyone else? He's repeating the exact same thing he said in August. He gave an ultimatum, it was not met, and here he is again giving another one while ostensibly arguing against an open-ended commitment. That of course comes on the heels of the Congressional benchmarks ultimatum that Iraq also failed miserably.
When O'Hanlon isn't busy telling people who have been right on Iraq from the start that they should listen more to those who are constantly wrong he's observing that people have lost interest in his opinion. Is that surprising? Just open up your calendar, flip ahead six months and write "wait another six months" and you've replicated his message. He and Cordesman and all the Iraq War "experts" have been repeating that exact same message since he war began.
"Just another six months" and empty threats to pull out if certain goals are unment are tired jokes. At this point you'd figure that, if for no other reason than to avoid continued embarrassment, people like O'Hanlon would come clean and admit that they will never under any circumstances support a withdrawal from Iraq until they say we've "won."