Bill Clinton gets it at least. This morning, while discussing Iraq with NBC's Matt Lauer, he recalled the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988. "They did it very rapidly", he said. "And hundreds of Russian troops were killed on the way out of the country, because they presented themselves as targets. And the reason [Hillary]'s been pushing so hard for the Pentagon to have a plan for withdrawal -- she says, rightly so, 'the president can disagree with me about when we should withdraw; I think we should begin to withdraw right now -- but whenever we withdraw, we've gotta have a plan, because otherwise a lot of our people will be killed and wounded who shouldn't be.'"
Four years ago, The Iraq war was already looking like a scene out of Star Wars (Episode IV). Cut off from escape in a Death Star cellblock, an exasperated Princess Leia snaps, "This is some rescue. When you got in here, didn't you have a plan for getting back out?"
Han Solo passes the buck and gestures to Luke. "He's the brains, sweetheart!"
Here and now, in a land not far, far away, there is still no plan for getting out of Iraq, and the Bush administration still gives us a cloudy picture of who the brains are. Sure, there's plenty of talk about listening to the commanders on the ground, but as we've seen this week, the commanders are forbidden to tell the president anything he doesn't want to hear. That's why there wasn't a plan for how to stay in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld refused to draw up a concrete plan for a post-war occupation and once threatened to fire anyone who mentioned it, because -- wait for it -- he didn't want America to be seen as an occupying nation! An "unforeseen" insurgency made it necessary to throw one together at the last minute. Today, apparently, the same tactic is being applied to creating an orderly exit strategy. No plan.
"The Pentagon has acknowledged as much", says Clinton. "If they have, they certainly haven't discussed it with the country."