Embracing the 2006-by-2008 plan Gen. David Petraeus laid out earlier this week, George W. Bush has just announced what he calls his "Return on Success" strategy for Iraq: It's "possible" to bring 5,700 troops home by Christmas, Petraeus "expects" to get roughly 25,000 more troops home by July, and "people who have been on opposite sides of this difficult debate" can now all "come together" and "agree that America has a vital interest in preventing chaos and providing hope in the Middle East."
And how do we do that? By committing ourselves to an "enduring relationship" with Iraq, one in which the United States remains engaged in the country politically, economically and militarily "beyond" the end of Bush's presidency.
And if we don't make such a commitment? If we "abandon" our "friends" in Iraq?
"Extremists of all strains would be emboldened," the president said. "Al-Qaida could gain new recruits and new sanctuaries. Iran would benefit from the chaos and would be encouraged in its efforts to gain nuclear weapons and dominate the region. Extremists could control a key part of the global energy supply. Iraq could face a humanitarian nightmare. Democracy movements would be violently reversed. We would leave our children to face a far more dangerous world. And as we saw on September the 11th, 2001, those dangers can reach our cities and kill our people."
We're watching Sen. Jack Reed deliver the Democratic response to Bush's speech now, but Virginia Sen. Jim Webb really took care of this part of it earlier this week. After listening to ambassador Ryan Crocker tick off a similar set of if-we-leave-too-soon scenarios, Webb said: "There were many of us who were pointing out that those were actually going to be the consequences of an invasion if we invaded. That's the conundrum that we're in here."