MideastWeb Middle East Web Log

log  archives  middle east  maps  history   documents   countries   books   encyclopedia   culture   dialogue   links    timeline   donations 


How low are the stakes in Iraq?


How low are the stakes in Iraq? The usual way of putting the question is, "how high," not how low, and everyone seems to agree that the answer is "very high." (Even I've made this claim in the past. See here to read about the Intelligence Community's opinion.)

But when we look at how a great many American politicians and policy wonks are acting, as opposed to what they are saying, it doesn't look like anyone really thinks that the outcome matters much.

The Bush Administration, of course, is more focused on handing Iraq off to the Iraqis by July 1 than anything else; whether Iraq actually ever has an election seems to be a secondary matter, as long as order doesn't break down completely before the U.S. President stands for re-election in November.

And, sadly, the same sort of thinking seems to prevail in the camp of the Democratic front-runner, John Kerry. His main appeal is his alleged "electability," the idea that he doesn't frighten anyone with radical positions or look soft on our foreign enemies. Earlier, I wrote about how this idea has played out in the national debate over Iraq, with disastrous consequences for our ability to debate issues of war and peace with any vigor or semblance of rationality (here):

It follows that [former candidate Howard] Dean's opposition to invading Iraq in the first place will make him political poison, and that his Democratic rivals, such as Sen. John Kerry, who bent to George W. Bush's insistence on having a war, were exercising the better part of valor.

Such is the counsel of cowardice, and a gross disservice to the United States of America. Following its logic, no political figure ever should have raised his voice against the disastrous adventure in Vietnam, or indeed should ever consider opposing a Commander-in-Chief's decision to use force, regardless of circumstances, for fear of the demagogic blasts that any dissent might reap. We are left with the thought that where national security is concerned, one man should lead and all others ought to follow. This formula reduces debate to an anemic wisp, and exposes the nation to the consequences of all sorts of ill-considered undertakings.

...these tactical considerations aren't worth much, certainly not enough to tempt us to override either our principles or our better judgment about national security. It is an act of necessary statesmanship to do what is right in matters of war and peace, setting aside the imagined or feared political consequences. The alternative would leave the American public bereft of meaningful representation in the nation's capital, and subject to the whims, passions, and vendettas of its leader, who becomes free to use our blood and treasure much as an absolutist European prince might have.

This "alternative" more or less describes the actual result of the votes of Sen. Kerry, Sen. Lieberman, Sen. Edwards, Rep. Gephardt, and the votes of many other Democrats to authorize an invasion of Iraq...

A sad confirmation of this conclusion now appears in an article (subscription required) by Franklin Foer in The New Republic magazine, which describes tensions between Ivo Daalder and Michael O'Hanlon, two Democratic foreign policy experts at the Brookings Institution, a prominent think tank in Washington, D.C. Daalder advised Howard Dean, while O'Hanlon mainly has been associated with John Kerry.
For many in the Democratic foreign policy establishment, Dean was seen as dangerous. They worried that his strident opposition to the Iraq war would revive old cliches about the party's pacifism and that his claim that Saddam Hussein's capture did nothing to enhance U.S. security would prove fodder for countless GOP ads. No one was more concerned on this score than Daalder's Brookings colleague and occasional co-author, Michael O'Hanlon, who penned scathing op-eds in The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Times [whose conservative opinion pages heavily favor the Republican party] attacking Dean. O'Hanlon, who advises several of the candidates--including Kerry--told me, "More Democrats should have recognized (Dean's) danger and spoken out against him." Within Brookings, O'Hanlon's pieces were seen as a direct assault on Daalder and [Susan] Rice and a break with the institution's genteel mores. One Brookings fellow describes them as "just bizarre. Forgive me, but that was personal, not professional." Others at the think tank reported witnessing loud, uncomfortable hallway arguments between Daalder and O'Hanlon over Dean.
Once again, how low are the stakes in Iraq? To judge by the decisions or either George W. Bush or Michael O'Hanlon, anything that happens in Iraq is secondary to the outcome of the elections in November.


My earlier comments on this topic are here. Continued thoughts on the unmaking of American foreign policy are here.

If you like this post - click to Reddit!
add to del.icio.usAdd to digg - digg it

Original text copyright by the author and MidEastWeb for Coexistence, RA. Posted at MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log at http://www.mideastweb.org/log/archives/00000194.htm where your intelligent and constructive comments are welcome. Distributed by MEW Newslist. Subscribe by e-mail to mew-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Please forward by email with this notice and link to and cite this article. Other uses by permission.

by Analyst @ 09:21 AM CST [Link]


Middle East e-Zine

Midde East News

Opinion Digest

Late Updates


Middle East Glossary

Middle East Maps

Middle East Books

Middle East Documents

Israel-Palestine History

Israel-Palestine Timeline

Middle East Countries

Middle East Economy

Middle East Population

Middle East Health

Zionism History

Palestinian Parties

Palestinian Refugees

Peace Plans


Middle East


Blog Links

OneVoice - Israeli-Palestinian Peace Blog

Bravo411 -Info Freedom

Israel News


Michael Brenner

Dutchblog Israel

Dutch - IMO (Israel & Midden-Oosten) Blog (NL)



Alas, a Blog

Little Green Footballs

Blue Truth

Fresno Zionism

Reut Blog

Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Blog

Simply Jews: Judaism and Israel

Jeff Weintraub - Commentaries and Controversies

Vital Perspective


Meretz USA Weblog


MIDEAST observer

On the Contrary

Blogger News Network- BNN

Google Sex Maps

Demediacratic Nation

Realistic Dove

Tulip - Israeli-Palestinian Trade Union Assoc.

On the Face

Israel Palestjnen (Dutch)

Middle East Analysis

Israel: Like This, As If

Middle East Analysis

Mid_East Journal

Z-Word Blog

Dvar Dea

SEO for Everyone

Web Sites & Pages

Israeli-Palestinian Procon

End Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: One Voice


ATFP- American Task Force on Palestine

Americans For Peace Now

Shalom Achshav

Chicago Peace Now


Peacechild Israel

Bridges of Peace


Israeli-Palestinian Conflict



Zionism and Israel

Zionism and Israel on the Web

Israel - Palestina:Midden-Oosten Conflict + Zionisme

IsraŽl in de Media

Euston Manifesto

New Year Peace


Christian Zionism

Jew Hate

Space Shuttle Blog

Israel News Magazine


My Ecosystem Details
International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Link 2 us
We link 2 U.
MidEastWeb- Middle East News & Views
MidEastWeb is not responsible for the content of linked Web sites

Please do not leave notes for MidEastWeb editors here. Hyperlinks are not displayed. We may delete or abridge comments that are longer than 250 words, or consist entirely of material copied from other sources, and we shall delete comments with obscene or racist content or commercial advertisements. Comments should adhere to Mideastweb Guidelines . IPs of offenders will be banned.

Powered By Greymatter

[Previous entry: "Iran: The end of Free - for now"] Main Index [Next entry: "Suicide Bombing: Between the "Fence" and the Fanatics"]


Thank you for visiting MidEastWeb - Middle East.
If you like what you see here, tell others about the MidEastWeb Middle East Web Log - www.mideastweb.org/log/.

Contact Us


Editors' contributions are copyright by the authors and MidEastWeb for Coexistence RA.
Please link to main article pages and tell your friends about MidEastWeb. Do not copy MidEastWeb materials to your Web Site. That is a violation of our copyright. Click for copyright policy.
MidEastWeb and the editors are not responsible for content of visitors' comments.
Please report any comments that are offensive or racist.

Editors can log in by clicking here

Technorati Profile

RSS FeedRSS feed Add to Amphetadesk Add to Amphetadesk

USA Credit Card - Donate to MidEastWeb  On-Line - Help us live and grow