November 29, 2005

Rebutting Odom III

Finally got a link to Gen. Odom's recent column on Iraq. Gen. Odom is a serious man and deserves to have his views addressed seriously. I completely disagree with them.

Here are some of the arguments against pulling out:

2) We would lose credibility on the world stage.

2) On credibility. If we were Russia or some other insecure nation, we might have to worry about credibility. A hyperpower need not worry about credibility. Thatís one of the great advantages of being a hyperpower: When we have made a big strategic mistake, we can reverse it. And it may even enhance our credibility. Staying there damages our credibility more than leaving.

Ask the president if he really worries about US credibility. Or, what will happen to our credibility if the course he is pursuing proves to be a major strategic disaster? Would it not be better for our long-term credibility to withdraw earlier than later in this event?

I have to say that this is the weakest of all of Odom's points. Were we weakened when we abandoned South Vietnam by suddenly cutting off funding for the South Vietnamese military? Were we weakened when Iran took our embassy and held hostages during the Carter administration? Were we weakened when we cut and ran in Beirut and Somalia?

It's just absurd to say that we're not weakened by abandoning allies. Odom can't or won't concede that we might actually make this project work. Seeing the inevitability of credibility destruction, which course would have the least of it. That's a legitimate point to make and debate but dressing it up with the idea that our hyperpower status makes it impossible for us to lose our credibility because we're not insecure is just a nonstarter.

I do see ways that this could end up being a win for the US so I see the whole point as being an exercise in making false choices. Trapping ourselves in a false strategic viewpoint is bad. There I agree with Odom. It's actually worse, though, to trap yourself into a false strategic viewpoint and pull defeat from the jaws of victory than it is to fight the good fight and go down in a moral campign to spread freedom. The question remains, what's the correct strategic viewpoint? This analysis point doesn't do a thing to help answer that.

Posted by TMLutas at November 29, 2005 02:31 PM