Things still aren't going well in Iraq. While I still believe that we have an obligation to the people of Iraq to clean up the mess we've made, it's time to start asking the hard questions about withdrawal. The NY Times has a piece today with five tough questions we have to answer before we can think of a staged exit. Leaving won't be pretty if things don't get better soon. A complete withdrawal will take months. Casualties will increase sharply as we fight our way out. Over 100,000 Iraqi contractors who having been working for the U.S. will either have to be evacuated and relocated, or left to fend for themselves. Billions of dollars of ammunition and fuel would have to be left behind in a quick withdrawal, further fodder for a broiling civil war. And finally, a massive withdrawal could be the greatest logistical problem the U.S. military has ever seen. No one knows how much it will cost shipping the rest of our personal and equipment back to the States in case of a swift exit. There's nothing easy about a decision to withdraw from Iraq. In fact, the President's "stay-the-course" strategy might be the easier short-term decision. Knowing him, I wouldn't expect President Bush to deal with any of these questions during the remainder of his term.
Our next president will have his/her work cut out for them.