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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

RE: What if We Lose?

There are some very valid points in this article, such as the proliferation of the big, nasty weapons in the Middle East being slowed by our actions and, to some extent, the loss of credibility with Muslim reformers that would occur if we bolt. On the latter, I'm not entirely sure said reformers wouldn't just bite the hand that fed them anyway.

But there are a couple of items with which I take issue.

Now Iran is dangerously close to acquiring nuclear weapons, a prospect that might yet be headed off by the use or threat of force.

That's a pretty huge "might." Iran knows we can't fight ground occupation wars on two fronts, regardless of what the Administration is telling the public. Remember, the US military underwent four years of indifference under Bush, senior and eight years of decimation under Bubba Clinton. We don't have anything like the might that held off the Russians for forty years.

But if the U.S. retreats from Iraq, Iran's mullahs will know that we have no stomach to confront them and coercive diplomacy will have no credibility.

There's that insanely stupid assumption that Iranian mullahs don't know how to read the New York Times or the Washington Post. The Iranian lunatics know exactly how much support Bush has for any adventurist plans he might have in mind. And our coercive diplomacy has had no teeth for decades, ever since we handed over our cojones to the UN.

Iran would feel free to begin unfettered meddling in southern Iraq with the aim of helping young radicals like Moqtada al-Sadr overwhelm moderate clerics like the Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

There is absolutely nothing to indicate this isn't happening right now. In fact, a number of commanders on the ground in Iraq have complained of this very situation.

Some would make their own private deals with al Qaeda, or at a minimum stop aiding us in our pursuit of Islamists.

Once again, I defy the author to demonstrate that this isn't already happening.

We would invite more terrorist attacks on U.S. soil.

This is just plain silly. Terrorist organizations have not been unable to attack us due to a lack of will. Attacks have not happened because the Bush Administration has put us into a carefully crafted state that approaches marshal law as closely as possible without inciting open rebellion. I would argue that the combination of Bush's arrogant open borders policy along with his inability to commit military resources to the problem have put us more into harm's way than we ever were. We are now suffering a de facto invasion from the South. Armed skirmishes happen nearly every day in the border states.

While I viscerally oppose this war and the excuses Bush used to get us into it, I maintain that we have created a duty to the innocents we have placed into the meat grinder. Yes, we did free them from a reign of terror, but when we did that, we took responsibility for continuing the effort of holding at bay the forces that would have disintegrated Iraq while Saddam Hussein was in power. The Wall Street Journal seems inclined to ignore the fact that most of those forces are internal. I see no possibility that the neo-cons' utopian vision for Iraq could be achieved in anything under several decades. The best we can hope for is an Iraq that can hold the jackals at its gates at bay so we can withdraw. There is no "win" or "lose" in this situation now, we lost the day we invaded.


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