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No Way Out

"By the rivers of Ba-by-lon. . ."

If we're Left we talk about lies, false premises, politicization and casualties. If we're Right we try to boil it down to "stay the course" vs. "cut and run." If we're moderate, or at least if we're this moderate, we rage about incompetence and missed opportunities.

Nobody talks much about what we do now.

There are four possible courses of action in Iraq:
  1. Stay the course. The weakness of this position is that we've never had a course to stay. We pulled off a lovely invasion, then botched the occupation. Mr. Rumsfeld denied we had an insurgency and refused to change our approach until the insurgency had sprouted like kudzu along a North Carolina freeway. We're on our third war in Iraq. We started with an invasion, we moved to an insurgency, and we are now in the ethnic cleansing/civil war stage. The way we fought the invasion doomed the occupation. The way we dealt with the insurgency may be fueling the civil war. So to argue that we should stay the course, a supporter would have to explain just what the course is and what it should be when we finally admit we're an eyelash away from an Iraqi 1860. Which brings us right back to figuring out what we think we should do next.
  2. Redeploy. The usual scenario for this involves moving ground troops out of Iraq into bases in Kuwait. The theory is that we'd hop back to Iraq whenever they annoyed us. This is absurd. When we leave Iraq the American people will be done with it. We will not re-invade. What is the idea here? That we'd leave Iraq in 2007 and then return in force in 2008? And what would we hope to accomplish by invading, leaving, then invading again? This is nothing but a face-saving dodge.
  3. Reload And Do It Right. This is what John McCain wants. What I want, too. The occupation was doomed by Don Rumsfeld's obsession with minimizing the invasion force, and by the entire administration's cheery Neo-Con Kool-Aid drinking binge. I assumed when we started this war, and when I supported it, that we were doing Japan 1945. It honestly never occurred to me that the adminsitration would have literally no plan for occupation and that they would simply not get what to me was self-evident: that the first rule of occupations is "place boot firmly on neck." But there is no way, not now, not with all that's happened, that we could convince the American people to go down this path. This ship has sailed.
  4. Cut and Run. It won't stop Iraq's descent into civil war, or Iraq's dismemberment, or Iran's extension of hegemony, or the Sunni portion of Iraq becoming a newer, richer Taliban Afghanistan. Pick your nightmare, but bear in mind: we could get all four.
The attentive reader will notice that there is no good answer here. Number 1 is probably doomed, number 2 is a face-saving lie, number 3 is politically impossible, and number 4 only guarantees that the fan and the fecal matter have a fateful meeting.

People ask why the Democrats don't come up with a plan. The answer is simply that Mr. Bush has so thoroughly fucked this up that there is no longer any solution. We're along for the ride now, having surrendered any strategic initiative. We are hoping to be rescued by the Iraqis.

That's the reality: we're hoping to be rescued by the people whose last smart move was writing Hammurabi's code, 3700 odd years ago.

“No Way Out”

  1. Anonymous Janis Says:

    Don't give up hope.
    With simple planning and a little sleight of hand America can save face and find it's way out of the mess in Iraq...

    1. Win a Democratic majority in the Senate this November.
    2. After election immediately begin Senate impeachment process against BOTH Bush and Cheney for the almost limitless number of crimes and half-crimes they're responsible for. Pull no punches. Make it the biggest most GIGANTIC scandal and ruthless political payback in U.S.history.
    3. Get all the news media, especially FOX news and CNN to obsess on the impeachment trials and related scandals 24 hours a day. Have them blabber on and on and on. So much so that the new officially renamed Iraqi Civil War is barely mentioned.
    4. "Temporarily" and with a minimum of publicity have the Generals pull our troops in Iraq back out of harm's way while their overwhelmed civillian bosses at the Defense dept. in Washington are hogtied as the Senate endlessly investigates and debates the COLLOSSAL EARTH SHATTERING Constitutional impeachment crisis before a gridlocked, mesmerized and ultimately comatose U.S. television audience that will eventually lose all interest in Iraqi matters.
    5. No matter how the impeachment crisis is settled simply do not send the troops back into the newly re-renamed "eternal Iraqi ethnic and religous conflagration". Somebody could then make a blowhard victory speech about how we respect the sovereignty of fellow democratic nations.

  2. Blogger Callimachus Says:

    I assumed when we started this war, and when I supported it, that we were doing Japan 1945.

    There's no way to say this without seeming arch, but just as a matter of historical curiosity, someday check out the degree of planning that went into the occupation of Japan and Germany, and the gap between expectations and realities, between whatever plans there were and what actually happened. It's a comparison worth making, but it might not play out the way most people think it will.

  3. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    They planned at least this far: they sent MacArthur, not L. Paul Bremer.

  4. Blogger Callimachus Says:

    Yep. And MacArthur's first act, practically, once he was in charge was to ignore the protocol set up and the checking power of the Allied advisory council and do everything himself.

  5. Blogger M. Takhallus. Says:

    I've always found MacArthur a fascinating but distancing creature. He's someone I've read about only tangentially, a part of narratives not specifically focused on him. When I was younger and reading about WW2 I instinctively disliked him, but he kind of sticks in the back of my mind. "Larger than life" ain't half of it. Do you have a biography of Mac that you like better than others?

  6. Blogger Callimachus Says:

    I don't, I'm afraid. I shy away from most biographies. You get too much of someone from one person's eyes. I put together my MacArthur picture from his appearance in a lot of other books.

    I remember when I first visited West Berlin and learned the Germans sometimes call 1945 Das Jahr Null -- the Year Zero. Since then I've had a snowballing fascination with the 20 months or so on either side of the summer of 1945 as the beginning of the world I've lived in.

    One good book, however, about MacArthur and a whole lot more is John Dower's study of postwar Japan, "Embracing Defeat." Chock full of tidbits, like the number of Japanese who spoke to MacArthur more than once (fewer than 20; the figure was 16, I believe).

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