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Nightmare Of Immobility.

We're going to need a new edition.

One of the Godfathers of blogging, Andrew Sullivan, after reading the infamous National Intelligence Estimate.
One reason we've lost ground - both strategically, ideologically and politically - is because of the bungled war in Iraq, which has produced the worst of all worlds: an ineffective occupation that doesn't bring democracy, has turned the image of the U.S. into Abu Ghraib, and has inspired many more decentralized and dangerous Jihadists across the globe. As a supporter of the war in Iraq, it's clear that over three years later, it has spawned more terrorism, and is now causing more innocent deaths on a daily basis than Saddam's vile regime. Whether this was inevitable or a function of the way it was conducted will be debated for decades. But this much we know: it was conducted dreadfully anyway, on the cheap, and without even minimal strategic intelligence and care. At this point in time, there's no way to spin this except as a fiasco that has obviously made us less safe right now and in the immediate future. The only arguments the Bush administration has left is that in 2050, historians may regard it as a turning point, and that leaving now would be even worse. The first argument is pathetic; the second argument is true but only underscores their unforgivable recklessness.

What's clear to me is that we therefore have a gamble ahead of us: do we withdraw from Iraq in some way - either completely or to Kurdish areas - or do we seriously try and get the occupation right? At this point, I'd say the argument is very finely balanced. Obviously, the first step must be to get rid of the people so far responsible for the Iraq disaster. Until Rumsfeld is dismissed, we have no hope for any improvement. General Casey needs to be fired as well, along with several other military leaders who have presided over this mess. For the first time in this administration, we need some accountability. Then we have a decision to make. Do we have the troops necessary to make this work? Or do we not? If we need a draft, do we have the guts to say so and debate it?

My own view is that we should either drastically up the ante in Iraq - by adding tens of thousands of new troops in a serious, concerted attempt to provide order for the first time; or we should withdraw.

Mr. Bush has his feet (and head) in concrete on Rumsfeld. And the American people will not now ratify a decision to throw tens of thousands of fresh troops into Iraq without a major and dramatic change in leadership. It won't be enough to swap Rumsfeld for some other Bush loyalist. Mr. Bush has no credibility with 60% of the American people. So a call for a major rebooting of the Iraq war will have to come from someone else.

I've suggested before that Mr. Bush should remove Mr. Rumsfeld, take Mr. Cheney out of the National Security loop, and hire someone like Senator McCain as Secretary of Defense, someone with real standing, real heft, real bi-partisan credibility, to take over management of the war.

Would Mr. Bush even consider taking that dramatic a step? No. It would require Mr. Bush to admit that he has been completely wrong about Iraq. Wrong to go in, wrong to listen to Mr. Cheney, wrong to let Mr. Rumsfeld run the war. Mr. Bush won't do it. He'd rather lose the war. He would rather allow Iraq to sink into outright civil war and possibly draw the rest of the middle-east in as well, rather than admit that he has been a failure as president and needs adult supervision.

So, Sully's right. But it no longer matters. We're having one of those March of Folly moments. We're trapped in one of those dreams where you can see some terrible event unfolding but you can't cry out and you can't run and your arms are heavy as lead.

(Thanks to the indispensable Moderate Voice.)

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“Nightmare Of Immobility.”

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    Well, that was depressing.

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