Stuck in the Pottery Barn

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Burned out car in Iraq

Can we go home now? [Alive In Baghdad / Flickr]

Barry Posen in the studio with Chris Lydon

Barry Posen (right) in the studio with Chris [Brendan Greeley]

So we’re in the Pottery Barn, to borrow a phrase from Colin Powell. And we’re standing there with some broken crockery in our hands. What do we do now? The news coverage we’re reading about Iraq seems to focus on the intellectual fun of dissecting pre-war intelligence and pre-war intent. You know the game, you play it every day: “Why are we in Iraq?”

But let’s ignore that question for a second and take what we’re looking at as a given. The United States has a presence in Iraq. There are people in Iraq who don’t want us there, and are killing Iraqis and US soldiers to prove it. You can see the conflict in Rumsfeld himself; he sometimes hints at timeline for withdrawal and sometimes states that a timeline is the worst thing we could do.

So what do we do now?

Barry Posen

Ford International Professor of Political Science, MIT

Author, Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks

[In the studio with Chris]

William E. Odom

Lieutenant General, U.S. Army (Ret.)

Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute

Director of the National Security Agency, 1985-1988

Author, America’s Inadvertent Empire

[On the phone from Washington, D.C.]

Thomas X Hammes

Colonel, U.S. Marine Corps (Ret.)

Has studied — and helped train — insurgents since the late 70s

Author, The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century

[On the phone from Falls Church, VA]

Extra Credit Reading

Chez Nadezhda, On Clausewitz, Donald Rumsfeld, and Post-Saddam Iraq, Among Other Diversions

Andrew Sullivan’s Daily Dish, If the Insurgents are Baathists

Whiskey Bar, A Visit from Juan Cole

Anger Management Course, Kissinger in Paris

Special thanks to Josh Cohen, editor of the Boston Review. Look out for Barry Posen’s article about the future of Iraq — along with eight or ten responses — in the January/February issue.

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