Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Two Bad Alternatives

That NY Times article I linked to in my last post said:
Several members said they were struck during their visit to Baghdad by how many Americans based there — political and intelligence officers as well as members of the military — said they feared that the United States was stuck between two bad alternatives: pulling back and watching sectarian violence soar, or remaining a crucial part of the new effort to secure Baghdad, at the cost of much higher American casualties.


First off, you don’t need to travel to Iraq to realize that we’re stuck between two bad alternatives, so I’m a bit confused at how several of these brilliant minds were “struck” by this most obvious of facts. I myself am struck by the fact that I continue to wish these people were lying to me, rather than to admit to the alternative.

And secondly, what person in their right mind would state the two alternatives like that? Because the first one is correct, that we could pull back and the violence would soar. But the second one is still part of the Republican fantasy, that we’d be a “crucial part of a new effort” with the only problem being more casualties. But that’s not really what the second alternative is. The second alternative is that the presence of American troops in Iraq is actually making things worse, with the cure being for us to “cut and run”. That’s the position of many experts and non-experts alike, including myself.

But it’s like the NY Times just can’t say that. I mean, if I thought there was a realistic chance that more American casualties could lead to success and that this was the worst-case scenario, I would be likely to support them staying there. I always opposed the war, but wasn’t always a supporter of us leaving Iraq until we fixed it. But at this point, I’m fairly convinced that our troops are a big part of the problem. It wasn’t always that way, but there can be no doubt of this now.

And sure, things are likely to be bad if we leave. But things are likely to be bad if we stay, and quite possibly worse. And that’s the conclusion that any intelligent person should have realized by now. And despite the snark in my last post, no, there really aren’t any good solutions for this. The fact that we’re stuck between two obviously bad positions doesn’t mean that there’s a third way out. Sometimes, life just sucks and you’re stuck taking the better of two horrible alternatives. And at this point, I really believe that things are worse if we stay. Not just because of mounting casualties, but because the Iraqi’s really hate our troops and are part of the problem. That’s not to blame them for that, but it’s just a fact.

And when you get right down to it, the real problem is that they were sent there in the first place, and it’s an incredibly dumb idea to allow the fools who got us into this mess to continue to stumble to fix it. Particularly when, for them, the only viable option is to continue with the original plan in hopes of saving their own reputations. They’re trying to prove that they weren’t wrong when everyone knows that they were, and they’re willing to sacrifice almost anything to obtain that result. For them, a stable Iraq isn't enough. They want to be personally victorious, and will risk great failure to ensure that it's won "their" way. And that’s reason enough to get rid of them. Yet somehow, I doubt that Baker’s plan will be including that obvious solution.

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