September 5, 2006

So a friend of mine asked me a question today. “Let’s assume,” he proposed, “that you’re right about Iraq being a mistake. The fact is, we are there. What would you do differently than the current administration?”

It’s a fair question with no easy answer. But I told him I thought it was a necessary starting point to admit the truth: it was a mistake. A bad one. Coming to grips with this fact is a necessary – if insufficient – ingredient for future success. Furthermore, I think it eminently reasonable to insist that there be considerable political fallout for those who are responsible for this unnecessary war. I frankly can’t even imagine something more important to hold someone accountable for.

So, no; Bush doesn’t get a pass just by saying “we are there now and we have to deal with it.” He fucked up badly and our country is now in a very tight spot with no easy way out and no guarantee of a good outcome. It’s his fault. He is, after all, the decider. People should lose their jobs for this kind of blunder. Especially if they are still too deluded to admit their mistake.

On to the question. What would I do? I have already said that I think pulling every last soldier out of Iraq by next week might not be the best strategy. On the other hand, I fail to see what our current course is accomplishing, aside from being a great recruiting point for al Qaeda. I guess my course of action would be this: I would get together all my advisers, military leaders and foreign policy strategists. I would put them in a room and instruct them to come up with three different strategies that they would pitch to me one at a time. Likely as not there would be some sort of criteria set for our troops to begin leaving Iraq. Whether it’s time-based or event-based, it would be announced and up-front.

“Well you can’t just announce it!” my friend countered; “the terrorists will just hide and then declare victory the minute you leave!”

Guess what? They’re going to do that no matter what we do. Shitty situation, huh? Thank Mr. Bush for it.

Anyway, I would have only one criteria for being included in my what-to-do-in-Iraq task force: if you still think invading Iraq was a good idea you can’t be in it. If, on the other hand, you’ve got a firm enough grip on reality to admit it was a bad blunder, you’re in.


No comments yet

  1. Believe it was Colin Powell who said, “You break it, you own it.”
    Only a guess, but he would probably advise increasing troop levels.
    Richard Perle & Paul Wolfowitz were the architects of this fiasco.
    Only a guess, but they would blame the military tactics.
    Last poll of Iraqis I saw indicated 57% would like to see US gone.
    Let’s take their advice and make them happy.

  2. Are their any politicians now days who will admit they screwed it up? If so let me know who they are, I’d vote for them (unless they were republican but then I don’t think I have to worry about that).

  3. What I’d like to see happen, among other things, is a distinction drawn between terrorist threats here in the US and threats to our troops in Iraq. Whoever inherits this catastrophe would be wise to request a careful analysis from the military and CIA on whether or not it’s really true that the Shia and Sunnis who are attacking us there would be doing so here if it weren’t for the war. The answer to that question should guide our policy on Iraq and our timetable for leaving.

    I think I’d also want a good analysis of what has been working and what hasn’t. My bet is that there is a lot of good work going on in Iraq, but because there hasn’t been a unified command and because the administration has been loathe to admit that there’s an insurgency and a threat of civil war, those in the military trying to address those issues haven’t always had the full support they need. For example, setting up huge bunkers that function like mini-Americas appears not to be effective in either quelling the insurgency or bolstering relations between the US and Iraqis. Slow, painstaking, relationship-building on the local level seems to get good results. A policy of identifying clearly what is working and getting behind that would win over many in Iraq, in the US and around the world.

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