Last night Bill Maher had Jim ...,
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the soup bowl...,
the ongoing confluence of serious opinion:
about a year ago I wrote "it's finally seeped in enough where you can read about it in the newspapers, from people on the Council on Foreign Relations and in National Intelligence Estimates". It seems to have all but disappeared since then, replaced by no shortage of absurd strategies for how to stay in Iraq. Yesterday William Polk - who's been studying Iraq for some time - argued after demolishing the latest "serious" strategy to "win":
When the foreigners leave, the target is removed. Then terrorists either become government officials (as happened in Ireland, Israel, Kenya, Algeria, and in incipient United States after our own Revolution which was also mainly a guerrilla war against foreigners) or they become merely outlaws without popular support -- Mao’s fish without their supporting sea -- and quickly are hunted down. History should teach us, if we were willing learn from it, that changing the context is the only feasible way out of the mess we got ourselves into in Iraq.
Of course, there will be a period of confusion, of fighting, of atrocities – as there are now, every day. That is the price that must be paid for our decision to go into Iraq in the first place. A similar time of chaos has followed evacuation in every insurgency. American revolutionaries hounded out of the country, brutally assaulted or even hanged large numbers of the Loyalists who had supported the British. Similar ugly events will happen in Iraq. We might be able to mitigate the worst with a transitional UN peacekeeping force provided its tenure was clearly limited and we were not part of it. In my study of a number of comparable insurgencies, I found that this period of chaos was usually short; roughly, it was in proportion to the degree of brutality of the war and its duration. How long it will take Iraq is anyone’s guess, but the longer we stay there and try to “win,” the longer and more costly the recovery process will take.
The argument for withdrawal has been advocated by people normally considered "serious" for over a year, and yet few in the House, fewer in the media, and no one in the Senate (Russ Feingold's "target date" might as well be an endorsement for "occupation lite", but perhaps he should be counted) are willing to so much as address it is a serious position that, were we to all otherwise agree, would have to be forced upon a deaf and utterly recalcitrant administration.
Established scholars and ex-officialdom and unofficial officialdom who have come around to anti-war opinions remain stuck publishing in fringe journals, are absent from the invitation rolls of "experts" on the news, and otherwise have seemingly been excommunicated from polite elite society.
Recent coverage of Cindy Sheehan typically announced Bush's assertions and repeated the chorus from congressional Democrats that withdrawal would "weaken the US and leave Iraq in chaos", resolutely ignoring legitemate anti-war arguments from qualified opinion makers to the contrary, nevermind qualified public opinion. When the protests go forward later this month I can only expect more of the same, leaving the mainstream public - as is visible from the polls and timid grassroots positions - to the tender mercies of unintelligible Bush critics.
These "serious" critics of the war - in the sense that they have any strategy at all - impossibly want to increase troop levels and enlist, just as impossibly, international support. Others like my Senator continue to play games with the lives of both American troops and Iraqis as they position themselves politically. Then there's a whole class of enlightened commentators and Bush critics that demand no more than the slightest acknowledgement of reality from the Bush administration, presumably willing to repay such benevolent kindness with a standing ovation and oaths of support for the "change of course". Will we see any difference in the coverage of this month's demos from when millions marched against the war before it started, or will it just be another cattle drive of pro-war commentary in the media to roundly denounce anti-war "extremists"? We should probably just start the office pool on who will be the first to accuse the unruly mob of not caring enough for the victims of hurricane Katrina.
update: There it is. Who'da guessed.