From Pine View Farm

Mr. Buckley Declares against “Staying the Course” 0

The invasion of Iraq was based on lies. It doesn’t seem to be going well.

Death spreads in Iraq:

But at the morgue, where the floor was crusted with dried blood, the evidence of the damage already done was clear. Iraqis arrived throughout the day, seeking family members and neighbors among the contorted bodies.

“And they say there is no sectarian war?” demanded one man. “What do you call this?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Bush has no (second) thoughts:

In his State of the Union address, President Bush told his Iraq critics, “Hindsight is not wisdom and second-guessing is not a strategy.” His comments are understandable. Much of the Iraq fiasco can be directly attributed to Bush’s shortcomings as a leader. Having decided to invade Iraq, he failed to make sure there was adequate planning for the postwar period. He never settled bitter policy disputes among his principal aides over how postwar Iraq would be governed; and he allowed competing elements of his administration to pursue diametrically opposed policies at nearly the same time. He used jobs in the Coalition Provisional Authority to reward political loyalists who lacked professional competence, regional expertise, language skills, and, in some cases, common sense. Most serious of all, he conducted his Iraq policy with an arrogance not matched by political will or military power.

While Iran thumbs its nose at the rest of the world:

Iran is defying international demands to halt uranium enrichment and to divulge all aspects of its nuclear program, including whether its military was involved in what may have been work on nuclear-warhead design, a U.N. nuclear agency report said yesterday.

Unless Iran cooperates, investigators with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency may never be able to determine whether Iran’s program is strictly for peaceful purposes, as Tehran contends, the report says.

And Mr. Buckley counsels changing the course:

A problem for American policymakers — for President Bush, ultimately — is to cope with the postulates and decide how to proceed.

One of these postulates, from the beginning, was that the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom.

The accompanying postulate was that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymkers to cope with insurgents bent on violence.

This last did not happen. And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn’t work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.

Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.

He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.

Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.

Anyone who can argue that the adventurism in Iraq has been–or could have been–anything other than a wrong-headed disaster lives in willful ignorance.

It is clear the world is tossing in the wake of Mr. Bush’s course, a course that was set in duplicity and steered with disregard of hazards and rules of navigation.

The ship needs a new captain and officer staff.

Lord grant that the ship does not founder before they are found.

Tip of the hat the Eric Alterman for the link.


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