Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The war is lost. Get used to it.

Juan Cole provides a roundup of what Democratic candidates said about Iraq in yesterday's debate. What jumped out at me was how much most are still attached to the illusion that the U.S. controls its own fate in the Iraq devastation we have made. They don't get it or they refuse to level with us: when you lose a war -- and the U.S. has lost a war -- you lose control.
  • BIDEN: you cannot pull out of Iraq without the follow-on that's been projected here, unless you have a political solution. ...
  • CLINTON: the best estimate is that we can probably move a brigade a month, if we really accelerate it, maybe a brigade and a half or two a month. That is a lot of months. My point is: They're not even planning for that in the Pentagon.
  • OBAMA: We've been talking about Iraq -- one of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses. They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region. . .
  • RICHARDSON: The diplomatic work cannot begin to heal Iraq, to protect our interests, without troops out.
Only Richardson seems honestly to be thinking in terms of how to restore lost U.S. influence. All of them simply assume that U.S. power is fundamentally undiminished by our crime in Iraq. This is not true. The U.S. is still the world's superpower, but this little adventure by our petroleum barons and Likudniks has genuinely diminished U.S. power. The world is not automatically better off for U.S. weakness, but that weakness has been shown.


Kay Dennison said...

Isn't the term 'honest politician' an oxymoron? Sigh

The only straight shooters seem to be from Texas. Ron Paul on the Republican side is the only one speaking about ending the Iraqi war or who has uttered that extinct word, 'Constitution'.

Nell said...

One of the things that most impressed me about Jim Webb when he spoke at a small campaign stop in my county last fall is that he was very clear on the fact of lost influence (and that the war was already lost).

He said, "It's going to take a decade at least to recover anything like the kind of influence we had before the invasion. And that's only if we recognize and commit to work on that nonstop."

It may be that the candidates do recognize that when speaking privately, but they display every sign of believing that the public can't handle the unpleasant truth (at least from someone campaigning for president).

In fairness, that wasn't part of Webb's stump speech, either; he said it in conversation with a couple of us in the pre-speech 'work the room' phase of the event. But I bet none of the front-runners would be willing to say anything that blunt in a similar situation.

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