Why the Pull-Out?

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Arms and Influence tries to make sense of the recent surprise announcement that the Bush administration is planning to draw down troops from Iraq in 2006. What are they thinking? Do they really think Iraq is getting better rather than worse? Surely their assessment of what’s going on in Iraq can’t be that different from everyone else’s assessment, namely, that Iraq’s going to hell and is all set to implode. Bush may live in a cocoon, hearing only the news he wants to hear, but surely it can’t be that bad, right? Alternatively, maybe the administration just plans to pull out regardless and risk letting a civil war erupt in Iraq, thus disregarding everything they’ve said in the past about “staying the course” and democracy and whatnot. That’s possible. Who knows? Here’s another interpretation:

My guess—and at this point, it’s just a guess—is that we’re seeing a combination of different forces at play. There are clear signs that the top levels of the Bush Administration genuinely do see the Iraq war in a more positive light than the general population. There are also reasons to believe that the DoD’s manpower crisis has reached a critical level.

Recent polls show that Republican legislators do face a lot of antipathy about Iraq—even if the Democrats continue to look as though they can’t lead us to victory, either. All of these pressures may be pushing through different channels of government to the very top, where senior decision-makers may be pre-disposed to seeing progress that isn’t really there. Any one of these officials may be of two minds about Iraq: (1) the insurgent groups are defying our best efforts; (2) on the other hand, we could turn the corner tomorrow.

That seems about right. But if that’s right, it also means that we’re very likely to see a draw-down in 2006 no matter what the situation looks like; too many other outside factors are at work here for the “facts on the ground” to matter all that much.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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