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Iraq timetable

Can we all at least agree that setting arbitrary dates for troop withdrawals is a bad idea? Setting a fixed date would merely say to the insurgents, "Just hang in there for n more months and the country's all yours."

Now I'm not saying Congress doesn't have a vested interest (or even a duty) to ask what we're hoping to accomplish by our continued presence there; they do. In that spirit, I think it would be much more effective and politically viable to create a condition-based exit plan rather than a date-based plan.

Congress and/or the White House could set forth our ultimate goals for the region, and what criteria should be met before withdrawal in

  • the ideal case
  • the target case, and
  • the minimally acceptable case

Such a document, if it contained sufficient detail, would be helpful in maintaining focus and measuring our progress. Circling a date on the calendar, by contrast, is not only pointless posturing -- it's dangerous.