Matthew Yglesias’ new boss Harold Meyerson steps to the plate with some comments about Iraq in tomorrow’s Washington Post. Problem is, I just don’t think he and I are living in the same world. He’s convinced that it’s 1968, and GWB is LBJ. I think he has his Texans confused.
Stuck Like Lyndon
So much for American unilateralism.
As our strategic doctrine of choice, unilateralism had a one-year run, from one Labor Day to the next. A year ago the administration announced we had both the right and the might to run the world free from the constraints of entangling alliances or multinational accords.
George W. Bush didn’t repudiate that right in his speech to the nation on Sunday, but he did allow how we didn’t have the might.
So far, so good. I think there are real issues about the capabilities/intentions mismatch, and that we made serious mistakes in the runup to the war, the planning for the war and in the postwar diplomatic dance. I think we need to make sure we have the forces on hand to do the job, and that it is clear to our enemies and our allies (as well to ourselves) that we have the resources to do the job.
Like Lyndon Johnson, Bush has gotten us stuck in a no-win conflict in a distant land, and, as they did during Johnson’s war, the American people know it. The action, thankfully, is nowhere near so bloody now as it was then, and partly for that reason hardly anyone is demanding, as Americans did of Johnson, that Bush bring all the troops home right now. The American left as well as the American right understands that we have a moral obligation to help rebuild Iraq, though liberals believe that task will be more readily accomplished when under a genuinely international aegis.
Well, I don’t know, it looks like we’re making progress toward winning to me. And as a liberal, I certainly would support a genuinely international aegis, if it was something other than a pale blue one. We liberals have a lot to answer for in the behavior and effectiveness of the United Nations over the last twenty years.
Back to Iraq:
But stuck is stuck, and the American people do not take kindly to leaders who squander U.S. lives and treasure for a cause that seems remote from U.S. interests. As Johnson did with Vietnam, Bush sought to depict the current action in Iraq as necessary to safeguarding our shores.
“We are fighting that enemy in Iraq and Afghanistan today so that we do not meet him again on our own streets, in our own cities,” Bush said. The president will have to deliver a more persuasive speech than he did Sunday, however, if he’s to convince Americans that our checkpoints in Tikrit somehow enhance our homeland security. The diehard Baathists who likely are attacking our soldiers plainly have no agenda outside Iraq, and if al Qaeda is now operating there, it’s because we have turned our troops, and supporters of the reconstruction efforts, into sitting ducks for religious fanatics.
Somehow, I don’t think our troops see themselves as ‘sitting ducks.’ I doubt that their opponents do, either. And yes, Bush has advanced a theory that suggests that checkpoints outside Tikrit do, in fact, enhance homeland security. I’m waiting for the comparable theory from Meyerson’s side.
The nervousness that suddenly hangs over the Bush White House is well deserved: The president has lost control of the situation he created in Iraq and of the American economy as well. It is not Bush’s fault that this is the first truly global recovery, that American corporations now rebound by hiring (when they hire at all) abroad rather than in the States.
It is most certainly Bush’s fault, however, that there is no funding to put people to work rebuilding our various tattered infrastructures because he has squandered it all on the rich.
Stuck in Iraq, stuck at home and the polling shows that the American people increasingly realize it and lay the blame on Bush.
Well, it’s all over. We may as well slouch home, defeated.
Bullshit, Mr. Meyerson.
Bush was a fool for pandering to his political investors (I won’t dignify them with the name ‘supporters’) and supporting his hugely lopsided tax cut at a time when the demands on our treasure and might are so high.
But you, Mr. Meyerson, are a fool for believing that this is 1968, or that the American public of today is the public of 1968. I helped start the marches in ’69 and in ’71; I know what the public was like, and what they felt was at stake.
And I know what’s at stake today, you pompous, tin-eared fool. Look at the date on your damn column:”Wednesday, September 10, 2003“. Tomorrow morning, take the 9 train to the South Ferry station, and get out and go look around.
You may not agree with Bush’s theory that the only way to defend the rest of New York City is to reshape the Arab world.
But you’d damn well better have a better one than ‘we lose’ if you want to get my support.