Wednesday, March 22, 2006


We've Already Lost.

The Wall Street Journal features a duplicitous editorial today titled "What if we lose?" In case anyone wonders what losing looks like, the WSJ offers this: "By fail, we mean cut and run before giving Iraqis the time and support to establish a stable, democratic government that can stand on its own." (I'd personally relish their definition of winning more, but that's too much to ask.) When you define loss in red-meat rhetoric, you're obviously not making a serious point; you're shoring up the wandering base.

What's remarkable about this advertisement for Bush is how clearly it lays out not what would happen if we lost, but what has already happened--defining more clearly than their clear definition what losing really means. Behold:
  • "The U.S. would lose all credibility on weapons proliferation."
  • "Broader Mideast instability."
  • "We would lose all credibility with Muslim reformers."
  • "We would invite more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil."
It is a testament to the impenetrability of the GOP echo chamber that these supposed dangers haven't yet been recognized as realities. Of course, the US has lost credibility on weapons proliferation, and Iran and North Korea (not to mention India) prove the point. The Mideast is enormously less stable now than it was in 2002. Muslim reformers should count the US's experiment in Iraq--and the intense interest in radical Islam it fomented--as the greatest barrier to reform in the last two decades. The last point is wholly untestable, but again, fails the smell test: in 1999, President Clinton's activities across the Mideast had gotten him a measure of trust from the Arab street. That's gone--probably for years.

The WSJ represents a strain of thought within the administration and larger GOP--one radically at odds with reality. And they're the ones substantially in control of foreign policy. The future of Iraq, whatever it might be theoretically, is shrouded in the darkness of this sad fact.

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