Thursday, October 18, 2007

No Place Like Home

This, purporting to be a serious policy proposal from two of the "serious people" in the mainstream Democratic Party, is frankly stupid.

It's titled "Ending the Stalemate on Iraq." At least that much is accurate, but the authors probably didn't write the headline. It's about ending the domestic U.S. political stalemate over what America should do in Iraq. Iraqi realities barely get their head above water in this piece the requisite three times before they're allowed to drown.

Unfortunately, it's pretty typical writing from the centerish-left. The gist is: we can't get Congress to end the war, and the stalemate just lets Bush do what he wants, as CinC. We need some plan that looks like a win for us but can siphon off enough GOP votes to pass.

Lovely politics. Wretched policy. What does it look like in action? "a small sustainable military presence in Iraq for the foreseeable future to guard our strategic interests in the region. The size of the force should be determined by conditions on the ground [ed. -- "the ground" doesn't make decisions; the president does], but it should be significantly smaller than our current force."

What will it not do? "The smaller American military force should be deployed away from the fault lines of the civil war."

Natch! But what will it do? "[T]rain the Iraqi military, interdict terrorists from coming over the borders of Iran and Syria into Iraq, carry on the fight against Al Qaeda and prevent genocide in Iraq."

All without going anywhere near that stinky ol' civil war! Solve all the problems, without getting dirty. Just make sure the civil war happens way over there, while all these problems get solved way over here.

"A smaller military force can achieve all of these objectives, while preventing the Iraq War from turning into a wider conflict in the region." Did they remember to don the red shoes and click their heels before they started chanting that?

"Last month General David Petraeus was asked by Senator Warner if Americans were safer because of the war we are waging in Iraq. The General said he could not say for sure. This is the most credible acknowledgement we have that we need to change our strategy."

No, it's credible evidence that Petraeus is 1. honest, 2. sane. If you'd asked, say, Eisenhower on the eve of D-Day if it was going to succeed or fail, he'd have to have given the same answer. What Ford and From seem to want is generals who will give positive assurances, no matter what. That certainly would help their domestic political situation. As for Iraq, I could not say for sure. But it's already vanished beneath the waves of their think-piece by this time.

Honestly, if this is the best they've got, bring on Code Pink. Ford and From could learn some sense about realities outside the Beltway from the likes of Lawrence Wright:

As the Republican and Democratic Presidential contenders debate whether we should leave now, or soon, or years from now, they should remember that it’s not just an American decision. We didn’t ask the Iraqis if we could invade their country; we didn’t ask them if we could occupy it; and now we are not asking them if we should leave. Whatever we end up doing, we need to remember that eventually the only people who are going to occupy Iraq are the Iraqis, and that the decision of when we leave, as inevitably we will, should be as much theirs as ours.

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