The Looming Choice

There will come a moment, I think, when even president Bush will realize that he cannot simply buck a majority of the American people, a majority of the Iraqi people, and a majority of the Congress in defense of an Iraqi parliament that is going into recess for two months this summer. There will therefore also come a moment in which the fear of the violence that will doubtless follow redeployment/withdrawal will seduce Washington into seeking a new "strongman" to keep Iraq whole. Con Coughlin thinks Sadr would never be able to pull this off, without a massive civil war. He wants a new dictator that's both secularish and able to restore order. It's the Saddam argument all over again. The trouble is two-fold. How does Bush square imposing a new strongman when he went to war to depose the old one? Secondly: there isn't anyone out there right now. If America were to try and find and impose a new Saddam-lite, he would instantly lost whatever shred of legitimacy he might have had. This is not, in other words, a solution. It could compound the problem. The neocons wanted to foment unrest in the Middle East. In this, at least, they are going to succeed.