Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Goin' Down
The Dreyfuss Report blog at TomPaine.com has an excellent post on George Will's recent criticism of the Iraq war, and UN efforts to come up with an alternative to an eternal American occupation. Also on TomPaine.com, Middle East experts Gareth Evans and Robert Malley note that the June 30th deadline for a handover of sovereignty in Iraq is "unrealistic, unworkable--and virtually unavoidable." The authors suggest a way to salvage the handover without doing more damage to Iraq's long-term prospects for stability.

The thing is, however: Pigs will fly before either the plans of the United Nations or Evans and Malley do, because either plan requires the Bush Administration to admit that it's made mistakes in Iraq. Of course, if they ever do make up their minds to change course, admitting mistakes may not be necessary. Just as some politicians suggested that we get out of Vietnam in mid-debacle by declaring victory and going home, the Bush Administration certainly has the cojones to try the same thing. As James Ridgeway notes in the Village Voice, they can try to "turn defeat into some sort of weird theatrical extravaganza in which being beaten in the field of battle can be spun as one more triumph of American democracy. . . ." Remember Ronald Reagan's characterization of Vietnam as a noble cause?

In discussing the proper response to the fact that private contractors are involved in the Iraqi prisoner abuses, Ridgeway suggests the Justice Department investigate the case and Bush cancel the contracts with the companies involved. In a weird way, that might open the door for the UN to take over some of the same functions. Ridgeway says, "Pretty inconvenient for Bush, who needs face-saving, but the nations of the UN, scared to death that American leaders will do something even more disastrous--like bomb North Korea or attack Iran--will probably try to help get him down off the limb. Not because they like us, but because they fear we will take everyone down."

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