Sullivan: War Critic, War Advocate
Unable to access intelligence, forced to rely on news reports, blogs and other sources for information, I don't have an alternative master-plan to win either. I would support an increase in troop levels, a clear-and-hold strategy, a more aggressive military commitment to protect the infrastructure, and the kind of outreach to alienated Sunnis that Maliki and Khalilzad are attempting. But as long as Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld are running the show, I cannot say I am optimistic that such a sane strategy will be employed or that it will succeed. It's like asking Ken Lay to turn Enron back into an ethical, profit-making company. But what else can I do?The obvious answer to me is, “Support an end to the war”. But that option is not open to him:
I agree with John McCain that peremptory withdrawal or a fixed date would amount to surrender to an enemy that seems to be gaining momentum and strength. It would mean a historic betrayal of all those Iraqis who want a better future; and consigning Iraq to a new and more lethal version of the Taliban's Afghanistan. It would put us in a more vulnerable position than we were on September 10, 2001.I agree, Andrew: withdrawal would expose us to all of this. But is staying preventing it? Not from all I’ve read. Yes, withdrawing from Iraq would be admitting defeat at the hands of the Iraqi insurgency. But that is not the same thing as admitting defeat at the hands of Al Qaeda/Taliban-style Islamism (despite the Bush administration’s deeply cynical, manipulative conflation of the two in its rhetoric). Are not the Iraq insurgency and international Islamic terrorism separate phenomena, with a small overlap? Indeed, I think the US would be much better poised to deal with the broader threat of politicized, international, violent Islamism (to say nothing of Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea) if it disentangled itself from Iraq.
Even if Iraq is as important as you and other pro-war advocates believe, how long do you think we should stay? Another 3 years? Another 10 years? How long before you are willing to declare Iraq a lost cause? How bad do things have to get? I never thought we should have invaded. But once we did, I found the “Pottery Barn Rule” pretty convincing. But now my patience with ineptitude, torture, and our soldiers getting killed is over. It’s time to invoke the “Bull in the China Shop rule” or the “Shit or Get off the Pot Rule” (coined by yours truly here).
Sullivan then goes on to bash Democrats for being ambivalent about the war in the first place, and for wanting to get out of Iraq now, and for disagreeing about how to do it. All I can say is, I would rather vote for a party that disagrees about how to get out of Iraq than one that agrees on how to “stay the course”. “The course” is the last place the US should be staying.