Monday, February 18, 2008

The Iraq Blind Spot

Why is it that after years of accusing President Bush of ignoring the realities of Iraq in favor of political expediency and ideology, most Democrats are now doing the same thing? Iraq has improved. Why support the radical and reckless notion of withdrawal when the current strategy has achieved progress? How is it intellectually honest to argue that leaving the Iraqis now would spur them into making important political decisions when our absence would be much more likely to foment renewed chaos rather than improved stability?

Even if you take it as fact that the invasion was wrong and our management of the first few years of the conflict was extremely poor, those mistakes will not suddenly go away if we leave now, as if we can just close our eyes, stick out fingers in our ears and shout “nah, nah, nah, you don’t exist, you don’t exist!” We have to address the current situation within the context of the current realities and understand that even if we disagree with what has happened before we have a responsibility to ensure that what happens next will result in the best possible outcome for our nation and, just as importantly, the people of Iraq.

Quick withdrawal was never a particularly defensible position (militaristically or morally) but it at least had a place at the table when the situation seemed nearly hopeless. Now, however, it’s just empty rhetoric delivered by politicians who refuse to change their opinions because being anti-war was so successful in the 2006 elections (just as Republicans ridiculously refused to change their hollow stay-the-course rhetoric because being pro-war had worked so well in 2004).

I know the intransigent anti-war crowd would go ballistic if Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton (or Nancy Pelosi or Harry Reed) admitted, hey, you know what, things are looking up and there are now inarguable reasons to stay in Iraq for awhile longer. But honest and right-minded foreign policy should trump the less-than-reasonable positions of party activists. I mean, Obama and Clinton can’t REALLY believe that immediate or near-immediate withdrawal is the wisest course of action, right? I’d much prefer that they were pandering than that they were that clueless.

I will be very curious to see if, after this prolonged nomination process is over, Obama and/or Clinton will adjust their Iraq stance for the national campaign. If not, the same kind of ideological and political blind spot that doomed the Republicans in 2006 could take down the Democratic presidential candidate in 2008.

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