Riffing off my last few posts, I want to draw attention to the profound agreement between George Bush and Russ Feingold - that the Iraqi people are toys for us to play with as we see fit, and when we want to drop that nation like a hot potato and walk off, we should. That George wanted the war and Russ didn't shouldn't camouflage an incredibly arrogant and short-sighted "America First" relationship to the rest of the world, and a stubborn lack of realism about what "It's so fucked up we can't do anything with it, so we'd better just leave" is going to do to the region. I point not to suppositions, but to an excellent case study - Afghanistan. If the US repeats the Soviet's mistakes with regard to abandoning a nation to its own implosion, what can we look forward to? Another analogy - Iraq will be to Iran as Afghanistan currently is to Pakistan, an anarchy zone abutting a nuclear power.
There are other choices besides the neocon "gotcha" game of "If you do things different than Duhbya, you're attacking America" and the inversion of (not the opposition to) that position, "Get out now." Given that Bush has made clear that he *is* all for walking away, just as soon as he can make it someone else's problem, the default position is "bug out". Bush is just waiting for another person to say the actual words.
Wes Clark, in his pithy and scathing WSJ editorial, makes what's at stake uncomfortably clear:
The public doesn’t have to live with the reminders of old sentiments, jingoistic pronouncements, or votes in the House or Senate. Instead, the public is free to observe, listen and judge. And that judgment has been passed, especially on Iraq: The war was a mistake. Flawed intelligence, overly optimistic planning (or in some cases, none at all) and grandiose geostrategic designs, hyperinflated rhetoric about democracy, and perhaps raw political advantage. Whatever. The public hasn’t quite sorted it out—but they know a failure when they see one. And Iraq, as well as the larger Middle East policy, is such a failure.The mistakes the Bush administration have led the country into must be resolved, and not by walking off. The first step to dealing with the mind-boggling mendacity of the Cheneyites is refusing to allow them to continue to claim that what they have done and continue to do is right. The second thing is not to allow them to paint the nation into a corner of "Our way or bail" as the only routes for addressing the cesspool they have left in their wake, consuming more resources, money, and lives by the minute.
Iraq isn’t Vietnam. America can’t just walk away without horrendous consequences. But “stay the course” isn’t a strategy. And the longer the bleeding goes on there, the harder the electorate will dig for answers—and the tougher they’ll be on those who got us in, and aided, abetted and apologized for them.
Have they made such a nightmare out of the situation that it is irredeemable? The only way to answer that question is to walk off. Leaving a small and demoralized force of Americans in their current positions is not tenable either, so how do we orchestrate a certain kind of leaving that does not mean abandonment either of the people we have wronged or the real security needs of the US?
No, I don't have the answer of how to make it better, but I can see what marching off is going to do - I don't think we have a clue as to how bad it can get. Until we get there.
Al Gore got it right - and now it is contingent on us to do the right thing.