The problem with the chairbound set
Off to join the party. Where are the pro-war liberals? Certainly
not in Iraq.
The Democrats' Dilemma
By Matthew Yglesias
Atrios writes that after his visit to DC he thinks "that Iraq is going to continue to be a big problem for Democrats, a problem that they for various reasons are unwilling and unable to confront." I think he's right. I was reading Roll Call's account of Harry Reid's new memo on national security policy and while it's impressive along many dimensions, he doesn't seem to have a great deal worth saying about forward-looking Iraq policy. The trouble is that as Juan Cole has written, Reid doesn't have good forward-looking ideas to put on the table because at this point there aren't any really appealing forward-looking ideas to implement.
Democratic candidates in 2006 and 2008 are going to need to essentially admit that they don't have magical solutions that will make this all come out all right and will, consequently, need to spend a lot of time making the case that this lack of appealing options is fundamentally the Bush administration's fault. That's fair enough as far as it goes, but it's bound to re-open the extremely divisive debate within the
Democratic Party about the initial decision to go to war.
This is, I think, a more problematic prospect than most people realize. Far too large a proportion of the party's rank-and-file are anti-war for a nominee to position herself as a credible Iraq hawk. Conversely, far too large a proportion of the party's national security elites were pro-war to put together a viable anti-war team. The truth of the matter is that most pro-war liberals seem willing to privately admit that they were mistaken about the war (I was), but don't want to publicly say so lest their credibility take the hit that necessarily comes with admitting you were wrong about a very important issue. The best way out of this dilemma would be for Democrats to focus on the issue at hand -- what do we do now -- but that gets you back to the basic point that given the mistakes of the past, nothing we do now is going to produce a particularly happy outcome.
Here's the problem. You and your Harvard classmates feel free to pontificate on Iraq from desks at think tanks, not the mess in Balad or Tikrit. Anyone who supports this war and will not fight in it, no matter how they defend it, is going to be regarded as less than seriously by the vast majority of Americans.
Not only were you wrong about the war, and people like Kos and me dead right, you continued to be wrong for over a year. The combat never ended, the government never worked, WMD never found. Yet, it took some of you well into 2004 to admit this whole colonial war was a horrible fiasco.
So why should anyone care about your opinions? I mean if you can't see a fiasco in fromt of your faces, how can you be trusted on anything else?
It's not really a divisive debate. It's a debate between the collabortionist wing of the Democrats and those who realize Bush's war is a folly and should end on our terms before it ends on the Iraqi terms. None of your friends are going to fight in Iraq, so why should the kids from Wal-Mart?
It is time to end this war. End it, withdraw and let the Iraqis solve their own problems. We can only do ill in Iraq, not good. No matter how many schools we build, hospitals we restore, we will be hated as all invaders are hated until we leave. We have brought death and misery to Iraq and there is no hope of it ending until we leave. As long as we stay in Iraq, Iraqis will seek to kill and maim us.
We can kick around various plans, but at the end, the only solution is to leave, the question is how, orderly or in a fighting retreat to Kuwait.
posted by Steve @ 2:46:00 PM