The Gones of August
This item was just posted at Iraq Slogger:
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced a new legislative proposal that would establish a deadline for withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. Under the plan, the redployment would commence March 2008, with most troops withdrawn by August. Some would stay behind to continue training Iraqi forces and to protect the US diplomatic mission. If Maliki's government failed to meet established benchmarks of progress on the security situation, allocation of oil revenues, and reforming the Constitutional amendment process, the withdrawal could begin as early as July of this year.
The this proposal ostensibly "forces" the Iraqis to reform on pain of US withdrawal. But here's the problem, the more punishment is inflicted in the form of withdrawal, the less leverage is available. With every American withdrawal, the power of the US to influence any government in Iraq diminishes proportionately making every subsequent demand for reform that much more toothless.
If the intent is to force the Iraqi to reform along certain lines, would it not be more effective and direct to authorize steps to compel by many means legal and possible, the result desired? For example, the required constitutional and oil-sharing changes could be drafted then endorsed in some fashion by the UN Security Council and supported by bipartisan resolution US Congress and then more or less force it down the Iraqi government's throat. This would be possible because US troops are a physical power in Iraq. But to start to leave town if your way isn't adopted and then progressively leave town as you get more frustrated seems a dishonest way to do what perhaps you really wanted to do in the first place: leave town.