It seems obvious: The jihadists who are committing the suicide bombings in Iraq seem to be coming in from other countries across a porous border (Iran) or by wading down a river (Syria). We can presume that these jihadists can be prevented from doing so, pretty much at will, by Iran and Syria. We are only leaving Iraq when Iraq is secure and its fragile government can’t be shaken at will by an outside infiltrator.
So what is so wrong with what Rummy said? If they’re not helpful, these countries, then our time in Iraq will be longer than if they are. Why would they be helpful? Because they can get something for it. What can they get? Well, that’s the rub, isn’t it?
They want us to leave them alone. The question is: What kind of alone? The “alone” where they can act at will, building weapons of mass destruction etc? Or the “alone” where we won’t act in whatever ways we have at our disposal to bring their regimes down? That’s not a decision that will be made by the secretary of defense. It is a political decision that will be made by the president and by Congress, and it’s impossible to know right now which way it will go.