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Saturday, August 14, 2004

They're starting to get it 

Finally, the US media is starting to understand that the Iraq war is unwinnable -- Fred Kaplan's article in Slate entitled "No Way Out. Is there any hope of avoiding catastrophe in Iraq?" will be the first of a series of articles we will see over the next two months.
This is exactly what Dean and Kerry and the left-wing bloggers and the rest of the democrats saw a year ago, even two years ago. For Dean, it made him an anti-war candidate.
Kerry, a more strategic thinkier, realized that the American economic position and interests in the Middle East required a more complicated posture now than the simpler anti-war Vietnam approach of 30 years ago -- see my "Kerry-think" post from last weekend on how he would try to handle this mess.
The US could afford an ignominious end to Vietnam -- the whole idea of that war, remember, was to protect South Vietnam from North Vietnam and hence prevent big bad old China from taking over southeast Asia. But by the time America plucked its last soldier off the embassy roof, it was clear that China had enough trouble just running its own country, never mind Vietnam.
Abandoning Iraq, however, would destabilize both Israel and oil interests. (Yes, I know, I know, they made their bed and maybe they should have to lie in it -- but the world doesn't need another Arab/Israeli war now, particularly with the American army in the middle.)
Kaplan starts with the same dilemna that Kerry saw:
"There might be nothing we can do to build a path to a stable, secure, let alone democratic regime. And there's no way we can just pull out without plunging the country, the region, and possibly beyond into still deeper disaster."
And then Kaplan finds himself going in Kerry's direction:
". . . with the right mix of incentives, Russia and France might be persuaded to send troops. One key would be to play on their commercial ambitions. Give both countries—and any others—favored status to bid on vital contracts. Iraq's oil reserves alone might prove tempting. The other key would be to turn over the occupation, including its military command, to an outside entity: NATO, the European Union, the United Nations, the Arab League—anything, as long as the general in charge is not an American."
Kaplan concludes ". . . the best we can hope for, at this point, is an Iraq that doesn't blow up and take the region with it. The dismaying, frightening thing is how imponderably difficult it will be simply to avoid catastrophe."
Once again, Kerry has been ahead of the curve.

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