Diamond closed by asking Senor:
What are we in Iraq for: to build democracy — which requires not only freedom but order, and thus a dramatic reduction of this violence — or to secure the long-term projection of American military power from Iraqi soil, which most Iraqis will not accept?Now, excerpts of Senor's response:
Larry,It's silly for Senor to call that "quite clear" when it is nothing of the kind. The context for Bush's "not a day longer" remark is the thousands of troops who are actively policing the cities and streets of Iraq.
We agree that it's important to counter any misperception that the United States has desires for a permanent or even long-term military presence in Iraq.
Indeed, President Bush was quite clear on this in his June 28 address to the nation: "I recognize that Americans want our troops to come home as quickly as possible. So do I. ... We will stay in Iraq as long as we are needed, and not a day longer."
Such a statement by Bush does not dismiss the possibility that the Pentagon might use military bases in Iraq to establish a long-term presence in the country.
Then, Senor mischaracterizes Diamond's support for a "time frame" for U.S. troop withdrawal. In doing so, Senor engages in some hyperbolic analysis:
... I do not believe that if we made even more declarations about troop presence the violence would suddenly slow down.No one's suggesting that a time frame causes the violence to "suddenly slow down." But, by taking one of the insurgency's best recruiting arguments off the table — evil America wants to create a permanent base in our homeland — it might begin to lessen the violence, and over time that might be just enough for a sense of order to prevail.
Besides, does Senor have any better proposal -- that is, other than the bold and glorious "stay the course" rhetoric?