The Logic of Cheney, Ctd.

A reader (along with many others) writes:

You have a perceptive analysis of Cheney's comments, but your conclusion is extremely disappointing. The Bush administration has turned the U.S. into a rogue nation sowing pain and suffering across the globe that will take generations to fully recover from. The amount of damage the administration can do in the next year and a half is incalculable. To say that the Democrats, having been given power by the people to correct our course, should instead give up and be the same kind of enablers to these two power-addicted men as the Republicans were, is, to be frank, infuriating to me.

If you have no stomach for one of the clearest moral struggles to come along in a generation, then please be quiet and let other public figures step in who are willing to get their hands dirty fighting these dangerous and immoral men in the trenches of Washington. Either Bush and Cheney should be impeached immediately, or the provisions for impeachment should be removed from the Constitution.

I have stomach for a fight. But I see no point in fighting battles you cannot win. The hard truth is: the Congress will not defund the troops until the fall at the earliest, if ever. The decision will and should at that point be the Republicans'. If they believe that the surge has been successful enough to merit continued support for Bush's policy, then they will vote for the funding. If they don't, they won't. Without them, there's no chance for a veto over-ride. But with them, it will be Republicans who end this war, and the responsibility for the failure will be evident. Any attempt till then to monkey around with funding will play right into Cheney's hands and make an end or new phase to the war less, rather than more, likely.

The moral cost is great: American lives lost for a policy that will still almost certainly fail. I do not deny that and I respect those who believe it trumps these other calculations. But the moral cost of immediate withdrawal is also great: possible genocide and mass-murder that will dwarf even the tens (and possibly hundreds) of thousands of Iraqis killed so far. On reflection, I should have been more precise: the Democrats should support funding this war as long as the critical swing-vote Republicans do. Meanwhile, they should make clear they differ with the president; in fact, they should make that case even more clearly. But they would be fools to cut off the troops. Fools. There is also a tiny chance that things may go for the better in Iraq. The Democrats should not be in the business of hoping for defeat. They should be in the business first of showing how Bush and Cheney have made defeat almost inevitable in Iraq - and a far greater defeat in the wider war more and more likely.

Then fight them in 2008. With everything you've got.