“The looney left is attacking me now because I say I think the US does have the responsibility to forestall massive hot civil war in Iraq if it can, of the sort that could leave 2.5 million people dead and 5 million displaced abroad. That is what happened in Afghanistan from 1979. The US helped destabilize it (the Soviets contributed more to the actual destabilization) in the 1980s and then, under Bush senior, just walked away completely. The American far left never complained about what was going on in Afghanistan in the 1990s, because for them the only source of evil in the world is US imperialism, and since the US had largely left Afghanistan, all was well. No matter if hundreds of thousands of Afghans were maimed as the US turned its back. Somehow they don’t complain so loudly about US-led NATO intervention in the former Yugoslavia, which certainly saved hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives. They don’t actually care about Bosnians or Afghans or Iraqis, just about hating the US. The US has done horrible things. It has also done noble things. I am hoping that it finally does the noble thing in Iraq, and wins smart, for the Iraqis and for the Americans.” – Juan Cole.

I disagree with many other things in this post, but this struck me as worthwhile. I think we may be reaching some kind of consensus on Iraq. Alas, it is a consensus formed by the failure to achieve our maximalism goals. And with exquisite timing, the moronic Democratic party leaders have decided to get on the other side of it. Let me say I find the white flag gambit as offensive as I find Howard Dean’s actual position. Both stances – jingoist demagoguery and defeatist pandering – are as pathetic as each other. We need to forge a way to make the best out of Iraq, and the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. And as I have written often lately, there’s still a lot to play for in that country. And we owe it to its people to do all we can to finish the mission.


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