28 January 2007

Two Analyses, My Analysis

I recently read two different analyses on the situation in Iraq. The first was an op-ed from Liz Cheney, the veep's daughter, that ran in the January 23rd edition of the Washington Post

The second is from today's New York Time's Week in Review. It's Sabrina Tavernise's retrospective after having reported from Baghdad for 22 months.

The contrast between the two is striking, Cheney's piece is all conclusion with mostly rhetorical support. Here's a sample:

We are at war. America faces an existential threat. This is not, as Speaker Nancy Pelosi has claimed, a "situation to be solved." It would be nice if we could wake up tomorrow and say, as Sen. Barack Obama suggested at a Jan. 11 hearing, "Enough is enough." Wishing doesn't make it so. We will have to fight these terrorists to the death somewhere, sometime. We can't negotiate with them or "solve" their jihad. If we quit in Iraq now, we must get ready for a harder, longer, more deadly struggle later.
On the other hand, the Tavernise article gives you her impression upon departure without coming to an explicit conclusion. Here's a sample:
But the odds are stacked against the corps of bright young [American] officers charged with making the plan work, particularly because their Iraqi partner — the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki — seems to be on an entirely different page. When American officials were debating whether to send more troops in December, I went to see an Iraqi government official. The prospect of more troops infuriated him. More Americans would simply prolong the war, he said.

“If you don’t allow the minority to lose, you will carry on forever,” he said.
Now, I encourage you to read both articles before you come to any conclusions, but I for one am finding myself tired of ideological bluster at this stage in the game, especially with 21,500 more American troops heading into the black hole of Iraq. These soldiers and marines, this country as a whole, deserve better from its administration. I am chilled when I read the President's recent remarks:

President Bush, on a collision course with Congress over Iraq, said Friday "I'm the decision-maker" about sending more troops to the war. He challenged skeptical lawmakers not to prematurely condemn his buildup.

"I've picked the plan that I think is most likely to succeed," Bush said in an Oval Office meeting with senior military advisers.

The fact that the management of the war has come down to, "Well, do you have any better ideas?" shows a serious example of unclear thinking and grossly insufficient planning.

The fact remains, though, that there really are no good ideas left on the table, all of them entail serious concessions. The "phased redeployment" that most Democrats and a few Republicans are advising is basically cutting our losses. We come out from this shameful exercise after having spent about $1.2 trillion dollars (sorry, Times Select already), with our standing in the world significantly diminished and Iraq spiraling further into chaos (not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqis dead and the more than three thousand Americans).

On the other hand, a surge of 21,500 troops has the chance to bring temporary stability back to Baghdad, but as long as the conviction of the Iraqi government is missing, it's doomed to failure. Basically, we're putting all of our chips on the table, in the hope that we can avoid the scenario above. In all likelihood, we are going to lose this bet, we are going to burn more money, and, tragically, put even more of our servicemen and women into harms way. If this doesn't work (and I want it to work) we are going to come out even worse than above, having lost after trying every last trick in the book. Just as Hezbollah was able to gain ground after this summer's war by saying that they resisted the full force of the Israeli army, so too will the extremists be able to claim that they resisted the full force of the American army.

Both are terrible prospects to look at. For me, the responsible thing to do is to pull your chips from the table and attempt to fix the harm that you've done back at home. Having lost all of your checking and savings accounts on the roulette wheel, you don't put your retirement fund on it too.

What's most tragic about all of this? That a gambling analogy is the most appropriate for a scenario the cost of which is thousands upon thousands of human lives. Mr. President, I curse you for ever stepping foot on this riverboat.

No comments:

Post a Comment