11 November 2005


Today is Armistace Day, the anniversary of the end of the First World War. The consequences of modern warfare on the global scale were so terrible and shocking to the people of that era that many imagined that Armistace Day would forever be a world holiday, marking the conclusion of the last war.

So much for that hope.

Via Atrios, I learn about this comment from a Washington Post article about the future of Iraq.

The [Iraqi] ambassador [Zalmay Khalilzad] argues that U.S. policy is finally on track. "We do have the beginning of adjustments that I think puts us on the right path," he told Gwen Ifill of PBS in one of his few on-the-record interviews. In addition to his own diplomacy, which has persuaded Sunni parties to compete in upcoming elections and Shiite and Kurdish parties to agree to post-election negotiations, there is, at last, a concerted counterinsurgency campaign underway, aimed at clearing areas of militants and then holding them. Khalilzad believes Baghdad should now be systematically secured, starting with the airport and then moving into the city. But the process will be slow and hard: Just pacifying the capital could take a year.
A year. Not for Iraq, mind you, just Baghdad. I'm not sure where Post reporter Jackson Diehl gets this quote from Khalilzad about securing the Iraqi capitol starting from the airport. But looking at the Gwen Ifill interview which he quotes, I do find this description of the ambassador's predicted timeline for the next year.
Within 12 months, one can begin to adjust by reducing forces, but still there will be needs in Iraq that will necessitate US support and involvement, including some military presence beyond 12 months.

But I believe within 12 months, Iraq will be well on its way towards success, will have made significant progress from where we are today.

So in a year, he says, we can hope to start to reduce US presence in Iraq.

Let me offer some perspective on that span of time. Germany declared war on the United States on 11 September 1941, and the war concluded in Europe 1335 days later, on 8 May 1945. The United States invaded Iraq on 20 March 2003, and 1335 days after that will be 14 November 2006. One year and three days from today.

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