As pro-Hezbollah rallies overwhelm parts of Baghdad, two of the most influential centrist columnists in America just essentially gave up on Iraq. Tom Friedman (TimesDelete) wants one last chance for an Iraqi national conference, then withdrawal; David Broder thinks it's time to cut our losses. He makes this critical point:
If Hezbollah in Lebanon and the insurgents in Iraq really are deadly threats to Israel and the United States, respectively, then those nations should have used their full military might - which is overwhelming - to deal with the menace.
President Bush never took this war seriously enough. That is why we have all but lost it. We failed to find WMDs; we failed to stop the Sunni-Jihadist insurgency; we failed to stop a civil war. We may, however, have helped incite a broader Sunni-Shiite war in the entire region. What's needed now is a long-term strategy to exploit these sectarian divisions in order to weaken Islamism. In the short-term, redeployment of troops into Kurdish areas is one option. I'm afraid anything more ambitious would be irresponsible, given the gross incompetence of the political leadership (now on vacation).
To put it more bluntly: It is simply impossible to believe we can succeed even in pacifying parts of Iraq with Rumsfeld still managing the war. Senator Clinton got it perfectly right yesterday with this rhetorical question to the Pentagon's macher:
"Yes, we hear a lot of happy talk and rosy scenarios, but because of the administration’s strategic blunders and, frankly, the record of incompetence in executing, you are presiding over a failed policy. Given your track record, Secretary Rumsfeld, why should we believe your assurances now?"
Rumsfeld had no answer. I guess Bush has to wait for Tuesday's primary before plonking Lieberman in the hot seat. Senator McCain also had a priceless on-the-record exchange:
Senator McCain: "You said there's a possibility of the situation in Iraq evolving into civil war. Is that correct?'
General Pace: 'I did say that, yes, sir.'
Senator McCain: 'Did you anticipate this situation a year ago?'
General Pace: 'No, sir.'
Others did. And nothing was done.
(Photo: Kareem Raheem/Reuters.)