Monday :: Nov 28, 2005

Racing Against Public Opinion, Is Bush Ready To Cut Deals?

by Steve

I’d like to be optimistic at this turn of events. You could read this Newsweek story out this afternoon and conclude that the Bush Administration is taking a realistic approach towards stabilizing Iraq by talking tough for public consumption and then privately acknowledging the reality on the ground that they have created with their own terrible mistakes. Newsweek reports, and Nightline confirms apparently tonight that our Iraqi ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad, who impresses me more and more, has received permission to talk directly with the Iranians about helping to stabilize Iraq. He has also received permission to engage interested insurgents directly on what it would take for them to lay down their arms and participate in the political process.

This comes as our military leaders on the ground seemingly have finally figured out how to secure parts of Iraq one area at a time, and transfer those areas from our control to that of the Iraqis themselves while beefing up our civilian support activities. Many observers concede that our visible presence and combat operations are themselves fueling the insurgency, so any effort to dial down our presence in the urban areas and seek outside help to support the Iraqis themselves is welcome. We can have the debate about how wise it is to have the Iranian fox step into the Iraqi henhouse at our urging while we also talk with the insurgents, but that train left the station months ago when Bush botched the occupation by not sealing the borders, supplying enough troops, disbanding the Iraqi Army, leaving weapons stocks unguarded, and disbanding the Baath Party and civil service.

I am just glad that a sense of realism has crept into the administration about the need to talk with both the Iranians and the insurgents, given that a good solution isn't possible. The ability of the PNAC crowd to get their pure solution in Iraq has come and gone, and will certainly be lost forever the more the Iraqis allow the Sunni insurgents and Iran into the mix. But it is the price that Iraq will be willing to pay to get us out of the cities and eventually out of the country. The big loser in all of this would be the PNAC aims to own the oil and go after Iran next, so it remains to be seen how this plays out. For now, it is good just to see someone in the administration willing to admit the obvious and work for whatever deals are possible.

The irony as the Newsweek story points out is that the Pentagon and some in the administration finally figured out how to militarily and politically work towards some limited success, and overcome the early catastrophic mistakes outlined above. But just like with Vietnam, such enlightenment and realism is racing against declining public opinion here at home.

Steve :: 4:39 PM :: Comments (19) :: TrackBack (1) :: Digg It!