The flexible defeatism of Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke proposes that the U.S. announce that “we anticipate the final withdrawal of U.S. combat forces will occur sometime in 2007.” Nothing noteworthy in this if one considers the source. But this passage caught my eye:

Precisely when [in 2007 we withdraw] will depend on how events unfold. Such a formula provides the Bush administration flexibility, while sending the message that the end of the U.S. occupation is in sight and we are leaving on our own timetable.

Isn’t it astonishing that someone who once was a White House national security official could believe (a) that a commitment to completely withdraw our troops from Iraq in 2007 provides the administration with any meaningful flexibility and (b) that “leaving on our own timetable” would make a military defeat any less of a military defeat?

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