Receding horizon?

“Out in two years” is a winning campaign slogan for any Democrat running in 2008. It beats the Hell out of the Republican commitment to “In forever.”

Responding to Matt Yglesias, Kevin Drum points out that the poll results showing that the voters would like to be out of Iraq in two years aren’t as reassuring as they might be: after all, they would have wanted to be out of Iraq in two years if you’d asked them two years ago, but they don’t want to be out of Iraq right now.

But I think there’s actually less to this problem than meets the eye. In running for President in 2008, the Democratic candidate just has to say that he’d have all the troops out by 2010. That’s a position that would have overwhelming support, as contrasted with the Republican nominee’s support for staying in “for the long haul.” Matt is right that most of the pro-war voters have no idea that the current strategy calls for staying in for a decade or more; the problem for the Democratic nominee would be to drive that point home, along with the parallel point that the Republican won’t be willing to put any time limit on the bleeding and dying.

Kevin is right that the day when the public supports getting out today might never arrive. But that’s true only if the public keeps hearing happy horsesh*t from the Pentagon. A Democratic President should be able to find a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who will offer it as his professional military opinion that the national security would be best served by getting out expeditiously.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: