Thursday, March 23, 2006


Iraq and the Next President.

Iraq's situation, unfortunately, does not exist in a vacuum. The next three years of the young republic's future will be linked to the woeful policies of the White House, which means real independence, experiments in regional autonomy, or international cooperation and support for security will all be absent. Instead, an unpopular President will incompetently manage his incompetent experiment, all the while support in the US dwindles. And, thanks to Bush's press conference, we know that the official plan is to linger at least through this administration. (Whether it was supposed to be the public plan is another, academic question--the cat has left the bag.) Timely of him to make the announcement during Hog's "Iraq's Future" week, wasn't it?

Anyone who has serious plans for '08 has better be thinking about this. It seems that the only two possibilities are that Iraq are two versions of civil war: it will limp along like it is, dangerously destabilized but intact(ish), or will fester in full scale war. Neither prospect is enticing, and I suspect the Dems will do their best to clear their plate of Iraq before inheriting it.

But let's just say that the Dems take back the House, start running inquiries into Bush's handling of the war, and eventually force a withdrawal. Even that scenario doesn't remove Iraq from the map--just US troops from Iraq. Then we have a dangerously destabilized country or a nascent autocracy (does the specter of Sadr worry anyone?) over which we have relinquished any control.

I haven't a clue about what we should do given these scenarios. But if a Democrat starts to run on the promise to "clean up" Iraq, we could be in trouble. There's no cleaning up Iraq, just trying to manage the fallout. I pity the fool who inherits the mess.

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