Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Coming Sobriety

Donald Kaul, an old-media dinosaur if there ever was one, used to write like all the rest of them about Iraq: full of sarcasm and schadenfreude at the other party's fiasco, mocking the Iraqis' capability to rule themselves. It was a Republican problem, and the answer to it was more Democrats.

Now that Democrats are withing spitting distance of the White House, he's ready to really think about it like an adult. And guess what?

After thinking it over, I've come to the conclusion there's no way we can get out of Iraq.

... Take, for example, Hillary Clinton's plan. She's for withdrawing rapidly but keeping a residual force in place to fight terrorists, protect the Kurds, fend off Iran and give the Iraq military a hand.

That's quite a lot, admittedly, but as New York Times correspondent Michael Gordon pointed out the other day, it doesn't go very far toward protecting the Iraqi people from insurgent violence, a key element in counter-insurgency strategy.

To protect the people, Hillary said, would involve us in a civil war. Her words: "This is an Iraqi problem, we cannot save the Iraqis from themselves."

Perhaps not, but are we really prepared to stand safe in our Iraq bases while the civilian population outside is slaughtered en masse in a war that's essentially of our creation? It's bad enough we avert our eyes from far-away Darfur; have we really the stomach to ignore a genocide occurring in plain sight?

That doesn't sound like any America I'm familiar with.

And so forth. Uh-huh. Look for more of that in months to come. Especially after Hillary or Obama puts the other out to pasture.

Why, he even goes so far as this remarkably adult observation:

I know it's not fashionable to think that control of natural resources is a valid reason for war (truth, justice and democracy are so much more appealing), but the fact is our economy runs on oil. Chaos in the Middle East would not be good for our economy or anyone else's, except perhaps Venezuela and Russia.

Not as much fun as the snark, is it? Recess is over. Welcome to the tough part.

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