TNR's Real Problem

As a friend just pointed out to me, it's not that they're out to discredit the war in Iraq by arguing that U.S. troops are committing all kinds of awful atrocities. (If you want to know what a magazine that takes that line looks like, see this cover feature in The Nation.) It's that they're seemingly terrified of actually saying anything about the war in Iraq now that everyone else on the left seems to have given it up for lost. In the months since they cautiously endorsed staying the course with the current military strategy, they've published very, very little about Iraq: the pro-war liberal Kenneth Pollack's case for a "surge in bureaucrats" to complement the current military strategy and the anti-war conservative Andrew Bacevich's skeptical look at General Petraeus's prospects for success have been the only pieces, so far as I can tell, taking a strong position on some aspect of the current conflict. And this silence has made it easier to read Scott Thomas Beauchamp's minor Diarist piece not as an embarrassing editorial mistake, but as The New Republic's grand statement against the war.