“When you have finite resources, you have got to define your goals tightly and modestly… If we were able to have the status quo in Iraq right now without US troops, would that be a sufficient definition of success? . . .
“I’m trying to get to an end point. The problem I have is if the definition of success is so high, no traces of al-Qaeda, no possibility of reconstitution, a highly effective Iraqi government, a democratic multi-ethnic multi-sectarian functioning democracy, no Iranian influence, at least not of the kind that we don’t like, then that portends the possibility of us staying for 20 or 30 years. If on the other hand, our criteria is a messy sloppy status quo, but there is not huge outbreaks of violence, there’s still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it’s not a threat to its neighbors and it’s not an al-Qaeda base, that seems to me an achievable goal within a measurable time frame. And that, I think, is what everybody here on this committee has been trying to drive at and we haven’t been able to get as clear an answer as we would like."
“ehhhh, and that’s because, Senator, it is a. . . I mean . . . I don’t like to sound like a broken record . . .this is hard and this is complicated. I think that when Iraq gets to the point that it can carry forward its further development without a major commitment of US forces with still a lot of problems out there, but where they and we would have a fair certitude that they can drive it forward themselves without significant danger of having the whole thing slipping away from them again, then clearly, our profile, our presence diminishes markedly, but that’s not where we are now.”
Now here’s the thing. Crocker and Obama don’t appear to be very far apart on what you could call a set of criteria for success. Crocker admits that they aren’t at that point yet.
So if we can agree on a set of criteria for success, and they don’t include a completely reconstructed Iraq with a fully functioning government, a fully functioning economy, but just something that limps along, maybe someday we will be able to agree that the US profile and presence will not diminish as long as the Iraqis depend on US troops to bail it out all of the time.
In the end, it will be necessary to force Iraqis to stand up their forces and get them to fight by standing down our forces.
Standing down our forces first.
It’s either that, or resign ourselves to a continued presence in Iraq. A continued presence that only exacerbates the situation.