Senate fails to halt Iraq surge
Many conservatives are aghast at Sen. John Warner for having introduced a compromise resolution opposing President Bush's troop "surge" in Iraq, but without any force. Many deride Warner as having gone "wobbly," which implies weakness of spirit or lack of martial valor, but it is really a question of strategic logic. When push came to shove, Warner voted on the right side, rejecting the Democrats' resolution. "Just two Republicans, Norm Coleman (Minn.) and Susan Collins (Maine), voted with the Democrats." (Both are up for reelection next year.) See Washington Post. As I've said before, I think the surge is a mistake, offering only a small chance of meaningful victory, while raising the risk of a strategic setback. Nevertheless, Bush is our commander in chief, we are at war, and all we can do for now is hope for the best. *
In today's Washington Post, however, David Ignatius says we should "Expect The Worst In Iraq." He lays out the brutal assessment in the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, which raises the possibility of a catastrophic outcome. He recommends a series of contingency measures to stave off the worst consequences, and I suppose there is someone in the Pentagon who is doing such planning work. I don't envy that guy's job.
On the other hand, John Krenson argues "The Moral Case for a Surge," emphasizing our duty to finish the job we set out to do. It's an impassioned plea, and well thought out, but I remain skeptical. I do agree with him on one crucial point, however: An abrupt withdrawal from Iraq, as advocated by Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi, is out of the question.
* Some local folks are promoting a "win the war" campaign, and while I admire their optimism, to be perfectly blunt, I don't share it. In a messy, complicated milieu such as Iraq, "victory" is a nebulous concept. Personally, I don't think the prospects would have been so awful if President Bush had heeded more of the recommendations in the Iraq Study Group, which basically called for cutting our losses and hastening the transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis themselves -- ready or not. That was probably the best we could reasonably hope for, but that chance is fading away fast. My general approach in life is to expect the worst and hope for the best, and that certainly applies to the situation in Iraq. Let us pray...