Thursday, September 30, 2004

Sniffing the air

The New York Times "Week in Review" section on Sunday had an interesting article about Iraq entitled "What if America Just Pulled Out?"
Even by its own disturbing standards, this was a hallucinatory week in Iraq. Beheadings, kidnappings, bombings, outbreaks of deadly disease and everyday mayhem were accompanied by interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi's upbeat statement to Congress: "We are succeeding in Iraq."

Are we? The discordant images and messages captured a central difficulty of defining an Iraq policy. In the absence of any semblance of agreement on what the situation is, or even who is behind the insurgency, setting a course is problematic. But with more than 1,000 Americans already dead, and more dying each week, one question has begun to be posed with growing insistence: Should American forces leave?
On the whole, while acknowledging real problems, the article came down rather heavily on the "stay the course" side of the argument - or, as it's more usually expressed by Dummycrats these days, the "we're committed and we have to stay because it'll be worse if we don't" side. The author even rang in the "a terrible blow to America's world leadership if we go" argument.

Hey, if our "world leadership" produced the chaos of Iraq, wouldn't a blow to that be a good thing?

Be that as it may, the fact remains that even while reasserting conventional wisdom, the article treated the idea of withdrawal as a serious option that had to at least be addressed. That this appeared in the Times, the very wellspring of conventional wisdom, is a clear indication that the idea of withdrawal is no longer off the table in the counsels in the halls of power. With a majority of Americans now saying they don't think the war was worth the price, a change may well be in the air. It won't have any immediate effect (with the possible exception of affecting the election, but since Kerry has been, as the article notes, "cautious on the question of withdrawal," that doesn't promise a quick change in policy), but the shift is happening.

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