The Iraq war is still George W. Bush's balliwick. He's the President, and he controls the military, Pentagon, and affiliated agencies. Dems can pretty much play the blame game for domestic political gain, because despite winning Congress, they still have no real power. But what if they did? Both The New Republic and George Packer at the the New Yorker consider this and come to the same conclusion--they may have been wrong about the war, but that doesn't mean we should return to Kissinger's old realpolitik. The editors at the New Republic:
Many Democrats have embraced a proposal called "phased redeployment," a politically expedient way of saying immediate withdrawal. Their proposal, which calls for departures beginning in four to six months, doesn't allow the time and space for the arduous work that a political settlement requires--the kind of agreement that will ultimately allow us to leave with the least damage to the Iraqi people and our own interests. Proponents of "redeployment" might argue that the president will enact any new course as ineptly as he did before--a very reasonable fear. But, having achieved new majorities, the Democrats must use their oversight capability to ensure that this does not happen.Packer, who also writes for TNR, is even more pointed:
The argument that Iraq would be better off on its own is a self-serving illusion that seems to offer Americans a win-win solution to a lose-lose problem. Like so much about this war, it has more to do with politics here than reality there. Such wishful thinking (reminiscent of the sweets-and-flowers variety that preceded the war) would have pernicious consequences, as the United States fails to anticipate one disaster after another in the wake of its departure: ethnic cleansing on a large scale, refugees pouring across Iraq’s borders, incursions by neighboring armies, and the slaughter of Iraqis who had joined the American project.Believe it or not, I agree with both. The problem is that, failing a pull-out, we are left with the lose-lose situation Packer describes. He suggests bringing together factional leaders and threaten them with our not pulling out if they don't shape up. That's one element of the solution, but it's impossible to imagine a fuller answer not including the international community. NATO, the UN, a coalition of the US's selection--parties not compromised in Iraq like factional leaders or the US.
Where Packer and TNR fall down, again, is their belief that the US can solve these problems. They decry "realism" in the Kissinger mode, but until they relinquish this absurd notion that somehow it is in the US's power to "fix" Iraq, the realistic realism they seek will remain elusive.
Let's say you were the President, what would you do?