Yep, the policy is drive by optics--the uniforms would look bad on Iraqi and American TV. So, we must innovate and have a really large civilian presence guarded by contractors. But is this really a good idea? Probably not, but politics, as they say (this is a morning for cliches), is the art of the possible.
The former head civilian, Ryan Crocker, suggests that this should be revisited:
“We need strategic patience here,” Ryan C. Crocker, who served as ambassador in Iraq from 2007 until early 2009, said in an interview. “Our timetables are getting out ahead of Iraqi reality. We do have an Iraqi partner in this. We certainly are not the ones making unilateral decisions anymore. But if they come to us later on this year requesting that we jointly relook at the post-2011 period, it is going to be in our strategic interest to be responsive.”I think Obama could imagine keeping some troops around, so this really hinges on Iraqi politicians taking a brave stand. Perhaps they could frame a request for some US troops to stay by framing it exactly as: do you want some US troops to remain or do you want a bunch of trigger happy, unaccountable private military contractors like