The House of Representatives may have voted overwhelmingly to stay the course in Iraq, but that doesn't mean a goodly dollop of Democrats don't want to bug out tomorrow. What we don't hear is what the left thinks would happen after we scurry out of Mesopotamia.
When some Democrats insist Iraq is another Vietnam, they betray their own tone-deaf sense of history: That implies withdrawal would lead to totalitarianism, death camps, a desperate exodus and a sense of gut-shot failure piercing America's self-image. That seems OK with the left, because they promise not to spit on the vets this time. Deal?
Perhaps they're right. Perhaps immediate retreat is the best course of action. Let's consider what will surely happen.
In a stunning display of logistical ingenuity, the entire coalition force retraces its steps backward from Baghdad to Kuwait, driving in reverse. (To placate an ally, troops are not allowed to retreat to Turkey.) The U.S. military hands over the keys to the installations, apologizes for the condition of the stove and some holes in the wall, and agrees not to ask for the return of the damage deposit. The Iraqis are warned that a special strike force will be right over the horizon in case anything happens, so keep it down.
On the way out, American forces bump into Syrian and Iranian soldiers, also in a hurry to leave. There are some comic moments "After you!" "No, after YOU!" but eventually everyone leaves Iraq to the Iraqis. The desert instantly blooms with a billion flowers, the power grid snaps on, and the oil pipelines heal themselves. Saddam hangs himself in his cell. All in all, a good start.
Zarqawi's forces, suspecting a ruse, consider blowing up two schools, three weddings and a funeral, just to see if any American forces respond. The No. 2 al-Qaida operative in Iraq he had been No. 253 a week before, but promotion to the No. 2 spot has been rapid in recent months begs Zarqawi to reconsider; the school is too close to a mosque, and it would be sinful to get blood on a holy structure. The insurgents decide to phone in a bomb threat, then stand outside the buildings and shout BOOM to gauge American response. Nothing happens. The Americans really are gone.
"Does this mean," asks one astonished insurgent, "that violence has worked?"
"No," Zarqawi says, shaking his head. "Violence never solves anything. It's the news coverage of the violence that works. But even now I am filled with shame that I have provided the networks with such grisly fare. Come, let us go to the prime minister and beg to be part of this grand experiment. Who among us does not burn to stand for election to the local school board? Come! The grueling routine of bylaws and compromise awaits!"
Representatives of al-Qaida meet with the Iraqi government, pledging to work for a free, democratic Iraq ruled by law. As a show of good faith, they release videos on the Internet that show them sewing the heads back on the necks of last week's victims. The Iraqi government relents, and forms a coalition government; Zarqawi is named ambassador to the United Nations, where he proposes a true investigation of the Oil for Food program.
Osama bin Laden breaks his silence to issue a long, rambling fatwa.
"Whoa," he begins. "Totally: whoa. If you had merely ceded de facto control of the southern portion of Iraq, we would have been happy. But the whole country?
"Dude! You Crusaders and Zionists are too generous. Really, the ball is in our court now to make a good faith gesture. We hereby renounce all forms of terrorism not because it doesn't work, but because it obviously does, and it would be unfair to press our advantage. Your example shames and inspires. Merry Christmas, infidels.
"P.S.: Now give us Andalusia or we nuke the Vatican. Yours very truly, Osama."