Iraq Will Require A Well-Qualifed Democrat
While our new Defense Secretary told NATO defense ministers today that there is in fact evidence that Iran is arming and providing assistance for attacks against US forces (which BTW folks is the casus belli the White House will use for an attack against Iran), we find out that the biggest problem actually is that the Iraqi forces themselves are riddled with corruption, infiltration by militias, and incompetence. This after we have spent over $15 billion getting these forces just to a point where they can pass weapons and uniforms to insurgents for cash and take bribes from captured suspects for their release.
We got into this mess because Douglas Feith and his bosses at the Pentagon and the White House intentionally used alternative intelligence to make their case for war against Iraq to an unseasoned and intellectually unqualified commander in chief. And now we are supposed to believe a new defense secretary that serial numbers and other indicators on shell fragments show that Iran has provided the IEDs that are killing our soldiers?
Offering some of the first public details of evidence the military has collected, Gates said, "I think there's some serial numbers, there may be some markings on some of the projectile fragments that we found," that point to Iran.
Boy, that sure sounds persuasive, doesn’t it?
The sad truth is that parts of Baghdad are rebuilding just fine, but not with help from the United States. Sadr City is rebuilding with help from Muqtada al-Sadr and his Mahdi Army, and with monies from the central Shiite government. This is happening while Sunni areas are all but ignored by Nouri al-Maliki’s government, and are sinking into a ghetto state. We cannot count on the current al-Maliki government to provide the political foundation for the reconciliation necessary to make the surge work and justify the sacrifice of our men and women. Either the government must change, outside entities like the Saudis be allowed to pump money into rebuilding Sunni areas, or we cut to the end game and talk about a partitioned country and even a burroughed Baghdad.
This president will leave his successor a terrible mess in the Middle East and in the Islamic world. Our next president cannot come into the job needing on-the-job training and must hit the ground running well prepared. Of the Democratic candidates currently in play, it is the second-tier hopefuls who have the intellectual world view and experience to deal with this part of the world immediately in a realistic, bottom-line way. Instead, among the leading three, Obama is making his lack of national and international experience a selling point while drawing parallels between himself and Abe Lincoln. Edwards and Hillary seem all-too-ready to adopt the "War for Israel" dogma when it comes to Iran.
Whomever I support for 2008 will need to be able to handle the job internationally right away, free of claptrap default positions. In this category, folks like Bill Richardson, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, and perhaps Wesley Clark have this capacity, as does the 800-lb gorilla in the room, if and when he decides to run. We've already seen the consequences from letting someone come into office still riding with training wheels.