A Disaster by Any Other Name ...
Dumbya says that pulling out of Iraq now would be "a disaster."
Presumably, he means a disaster other than the disaster of staying in Iraq.
The Washington Post's Michael A. Fletcher and Glenn Kessler report that the president, in a rare nod to a big fancy word, acknowledged yesterday that the Iraq War is "straining the psyche" of Americans:
"Resolute and at times exasperated during a 56-minute news conference, Bush cast the war in Iraq as part of a broader struggle against Islamic extremism that holds serious implications for the security of the United States. Bush's defense of his Iraq policy touched on familiar themes, but his passionate and lengthy plea to keep fighting was striking in light of the plummeting support for the war among the public and -- more worrisome for the White House -- among Republicans.
"Many Democrats, and some Republicans, have called for a fixed timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Also, an increasing number of conservative commentators who once agitated for the invasion are now critical of Bush's handling of the war ...
"Turning back to Iraq, Bush was adamant in arguing that the conflict is crucial to the broader battle against terrorism. 'If you think it's bad now, imagine what Iraq would look like if the United States leaves before this government can defend itself and sustain itself,' he said."
First, let's get the obvious sophomoric commentary out of the way. Despite my belief that Iraq has been a costly and grievous mistake, I am not sure that I support pulling out. Pulling out is hardly foolproof. And I've got the bundle of joy to prove it.
But neither is there necessarily shame in withdrawal, or "cut and run," as the Rovian talking points put it. I remember many years ago receiving this sage advice about turning my back on a relationship that wasn't working out (it helped that the woman was a cheating ho, but that's immaterial at the moment):
"It's important to know when to leave an impossible relationship."
Defense hawks love to talk about how the specter of Vietnam has dampened Americans' zeal for a lengthy war, and I suppose there is some truth in that observation. Whether a presumptive opposition to war is necessarily a bad thing is something I will leave for greater minds to ponder. But I would add that the legacy of Vietnam cuts both ways; the miserable experience of that war also fuels the view of many that "never again." In this case, "never again" means "never again will we cut and run; never again will we do a job half-assed; never again will we fight a war without resolving to win it."
That can be counterproductive and dangerous. Make no mistake; cut-and-run is an option. It might not be the ideal option, but it is an exit strategy, certainly as much a strategy as fighting until there's one man left standing.
Why am I reminded of the black knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail?
Cut-and-run might not be a great option, but it just might be the best one we've got.