Looking at the developing disaster of this war, I’ve been trying my best to think of possible exit strategies (not that anyone who matters will listen). Here’s the best I can come up with so far. Suppose that the liberation of Basra turns out the best that can possibly be expected – that is, at least some of the inhabitants join in a rebellion against the regime and succeed with the support of British troops. The chaos in Basra (no water, not enough food, remnants of the Fedayeen) would be sufficient to justify a lengthy pause in the fighting to establish Basra as the core of a liberated Iraq. Given enough time, something might turn up – Saddam might die of his wounds or whatever.
At worst, the establishment of a liberated Southern Iraq, and an expanded Kurdish area in the North could be regarded as settling the unfinished business of 1991. The Coalition could establish a provisional government, give it sufficient arms to deal with any remaining Fedayeen, and provide air support against any counterattack from Saddam. Then it would be time to declare victory and get out. Given sufficient chutzpah, the Coalition could even say that they have forcibly inspected all the WMD sites identified by their intelligence and destroyed a number of WMDs found there (zero, but zero is a number).
Josh Marshall has also been considering possible outcomes, two of which are disaster scenarios of different degrees of severity, and one (making Rummy the scapegoat and going back to Blix) is an exit strategy, though one I can’t see the administration going for.
If anyone has seen or thought of any other ideas that don’t involve either a siege of Baghdad or a new Stalingrad, I’d be keen to hear about it.