Some criteria by which an exit plan should be judged:
What is its target audience? Bush and his coterie should not be the targets. They will withdraw further and further into their bunker as all forces turn against them, refusing to back down from their goals even as they flail wildly in a tactical sense. Nixon didn't give up on winning the Vietnam War until April 30, 1975; Bush makes Nixon look reasonable.
The targets are dissident elements of the elite, in particular cowardly progressive Democrats, national security analysts who see that the occupation is imperiling U.S. interests but still think withdrawal might be worse, and non-right-wing media opinionmakers and journalists who to date have believed themselves to be far cleverer than the antiwar movement.
Second, what is it trying to salvage? Dreams of American imperial hegemony in the Middle East are not worth salvaging. Prospects for liberal democracy in Iraq have been seriously vitiated by the conduct of the occupation -- if and when it comes, it will be as a result of long hard struggle by Iraqis and not some clever exit plan. Even salvaging American face is not a goal the antiwar movement need get behind.
In my earlier ruminations, I identified one legitimate goal – somehow arranging things so that U.S. withdrawal does not hand a huge victory to Zarqawi and global jihadi forces. Second, salvaging at least the possibility of stable oil production and export is something the world, and all Iraqis, can agree is worthwhile.
True enough. There was something I noted in some correspondance back in the first months of the occupation to the effect that before we can start endorsing the views of technocrats with constructive policy proposals we have to deal with the fact that our leaders can't get their facts straight when discussing policy.