Failure is not an Option

Via Ezra Klein, Dennis Ross' plan for Iraq includes the following bright idea: "Second, we should set a date for the convening of a national reconciliation conference. Unlike previous such conferences, it should not be permitted to disband until agreement has been reached."

How come the Bush administration never thought of that? Previous efforts at reconciliation have failed because nobody ever demanded that the participants not fail. I feel like people who used to be in government service sometimes feel that they had access to some magical diplomatic pixie dust that Robert Blackwill, John Negroponte, Zalmay Khalilzad, and Ryan Crocker unaccountably keep failing to apply. More likely, these people have just been tasked with a series of increasingly-impossible jobs that Dennis Ross would fail at just as badly as anyone else. The real failing in all of this is hubris, an unwillingness to admit that the best thing to do is face up to failure and start trying to make the best of that.