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The Talking Cure

November 20, 2006

Link: The Belmont Club: The Meeting to End All Meetings.

In the first place, it is hard to see the unrest in Iraq as anything but a policy objective of both Teheran and Damascus. It is their handiwork. The material support provided to Shi’ite militias does not come from "radical elements in Teheran", it comes from the Iranian organs of state themselves. Under these circumstances, the principal danger inherent in the regional conferences proposed by Greenstock and the Belgravia Dispatch is that it may rapidly degenerate into a carving up of Iraq. A division of the spoils with Iran taking southern Iraq, Syria taking Anbar and parts of the North, and Turkey left alone in the room with Kurdistan. And everyone with a slug of American money. Why would any of the regional participants want anything different from what they have seemingly been working so hard to achieve?

Still, a regional conference could prove useful if there is a bipartisan consensus to win in Iraq. And what it means to win…

One might argue that the failure of the Democratic Party to advance an alternative policy in Iraq is one of the great scandals of the last four years. It has a constituted a veto by omission of Administration foreign policy. By their own admission the Democrats are only just beginning to think about how they could do better than GWB, and the proposal for a regional conference is part of that belated search for a solution. But however belated, a bipartisan policy is clearly necessary in the coming months and years. The basic question that policy must settle is what constitutes the American goal in Iraq within the context of the War on Terror? Once that answer is known than any subsequent action —  sending more men, fewer men, embarking on an regional conference or no conference at all, changes in tactics, etc can measured in relation to that goal. Without a bipartisan policy on the War nothing can be judged within the the framework of the national interest.

Read it all. My point in recommending this is not to denigrate the idea of negotiation, just to highlight the problems in that approach. More to follow.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Tim C. permalink
    November 21, 2006 9:34 am

    So the Penatgon seems to have boiled it down to three choices:

    “Go big,” “Go long” or “Go home.”

    It will be interesting to see what the Baker Hamilton Iraq study group sees things the same way.

    What do you think of the Pentagon’s options and which one (if any)of the first two do you lean towards?

  2. November 21, 2006 10:37 am

    You know I was always a fan of the Cheney plan “Go fuck yourself”, but sadly that seems not to have made the list.

    I don’t see any way out of this but a long, hard slog. I think another push to clean up Bagdhad sounds like a good idea (as was recently suggested) as well as embedding more of our guys in with the Iraqis where needed. Too many more troops doesn’t seem to be the trick, and just pulling out will make the situation so much worse I can’t believe that the case is being made for it. Let’s not call it stay the course, but that’s essentially what it would be. We always need to find ways to fight smarter, but the truth is the biggest part of this war is a media battle, a political battle, a battle of ideas. With the Dems back in power, I’m hoping that somehow, some way the idea of winning, or at least not losing can creep back into the the Democratic stategy. Without the need to constantly point out failures, and the responsibility of governing, maybe this country actually has a chance. If that gets painted as a defeat for Bush or the Republicans, so be it. I’m interested in winning.

    As for the impeachment, we’ll see. $10 says some “new information” comes up in the hearings and investigations that leads to impeachment, or at least some sort of show trial.

    There are moderate Dems to be sure, but the face of the party will be Pelosi. Then there are guys like Schumer, Leahy, Levin, Kennedy and Rangel, not to mention the dufus John Kerry. The Dems success depends on how responsibly all these folks behave, and how much they can disappoint their left-ward base, which is deeply out of touch with the American people.

  3. Tim C. permalink
    November 21, 2006 1:11 pm

    OK, I’m a fan of long bets… I’ll take your $10 bet that Dems do not use their shiny new Legislative Branch to even begin to try to impeach President Bush. We’ll check back in 2 years to see who won. Payable in Itunes gift certificates — or whatever Itunes has morphed into by then. ;>

    Happy Thanksgiving!

  4. Rob A. permalink
    December 1, 2006 10:37 am

    I’m curious to hear Duke Ray and Grec’s thoughts about the rumors that the Baker panel and White House insiders like Condi alike are wanting to see a “cut and run” approach, albeit couched as “a phased redeployment.”

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