THE EXIT STRATEGY
Bottom line, there are only two choices: stay forever or leave some time.
There are, therefore, only three questions about an exit strategy that must be answered:
1) under what circumstances should we leave (aka, how do we define victory)?
2) when will we leave - obviously directly related to #1
3) what contingency plans should be in place should things not go as we expect after starting to exit or actually leaving?
WHERE ARE THE EXPERTS?
As the Vietnam War got into high gear, colleges and universities were almost inundated with teach-ins conducted by experts in the history, language and culture of Vietnam and Southeast Asia. Books such as Fire in the Lake became bestsellers.
Where, however, are the nonpolitical Iraq/Middle East experts?
Yes, a number of books have been written about what has gone wrong in Iraq, but their focus is on what the U.S. did or didn't do. Pundits (with little or no real knowledge of either Iraq or the Middle East - let alone expertise in the language - except whatever the conventional wisdom is) flood the radio and TV networks. But where are the academics? The historians (civil and military)?
WHY CONSERVATIVES MAY WANT US TO STAY IN IRAQ - at least for now
First, let's face it (as the "deadlines" for evaluating the situation in Iraq have shifted from this summer, to September to November and now to next Spring or Summer): No matter what opponents says or do, Bush will not do anything more than, perhaps, a token withdrawal of a few troops prior to the November 2008 election.
Bush has said often during the past several years that he plans on leaving Iraq to his successor(s). We have no reason to doubt this. Indeed, I suspect that many Conservatives now believe it, no doubt secretly, to be the best possible outcome for their objectives. They realize that, barring extraordinary circumstances, they are likely to lose the White House and remain a minority in Congress after the 2008 elections. Whatever happens in Iraq thereafter, they will blame on Democrats. If the new Democratic President withdraws troops and the worst nightmare scenarios do, in fact, happen, these Conservatives will happily campaign for the succeeding decade on how "the Democrats lost Iraq".