In the constant struggle to stay informed here so our kung fu remains strong, a quick info-post.
You know there's an Iraq Constitution being hammered out -- what's the frikkin' problem? What are the points of contention? Ezra Klein has a link to a summary from the Carnegie Endowment based on Iraq's own internal press. My favorite wrinkle -- looks like it'll be based on Sharia law.
Yes, that's right America, your kids got sent overseas in inadequate body armor with no real allies, doing more tours of duty than in Vietnam, to establish an Islamic government which most likely will be best buddies with Iran. How's THAT taste, Kansas?
Juan Cole from Informed Comment is that incredibly impressive but intellectually terrifying professor you had at college. He's been studying the mideast for decades, and unlike most Western experts actually speaks the languages and can translate press and documents on his own. The good one-two daily punch for me for a long time was Intel Dump for Phil doing the "Pentagon bullshit-to-English" translations, and then Prof. Cole explaining just how we seem to have killed our fifth "man who was number three in al Queda" and the intricate balances between Shia, Kurd and Sunni (not to mention a healthy dose of Iran).
I will warn you, some of you may be pissed off on his constant criticism of how Israel handled the Palestinian issue, but seeing as even Sharon's backing a pullout now, he looks frikkin' prescient. (By the way, this is how adults reason. I can disagree with Prof. Cole on some issues, but at the same time value his expertise and assimilate his obviously superior knowledge into my own opinion.)
Where was -- oh, yes. The good doctor, who probably understands the fragile political system in Iraq better than, well, pretty much every human in Crawford right now, suggests at least a trial framework for easing out of Iraq without letting the joint collapse into civil war. Probably un-doable, but this is how the grown-ups talk. Even if you think we oughtta stay there for another five years, we need to be having these discussions. No fireman would go into a building without knowing the way out, no cop would go blind into a room ...
I can think of no better summary of this situation than that of my favorite political thinker -- Representative Tom DeLay:
"I cannot support a failed foreign policy. History teaches us that it is often easier to make war than peace. This administration is just learning that lesson right now. The President began this mission with very vague objectives and lots of unanswered questions. A month later, these questions are still unanswered. There are no clarified rules of engagement. There is no timetable. There is no legitimate definition of victory. There is no contingency plan for mission creep. There is no clear funding program. There is no agenda to bolster our over-extended military. There is no explanation defining what vital national interests are at stake. There was no strategic plan for war when the President started this thing, and there still is no plan today."
Or, the current President, George W. Bush:
"Victory means exit strategy, and it's important for the President to explain to us what the exit strategy is."
Of course, they were talking about Bosnia (where my man Wes kicked all kinds of ass). But these are men of honor, not hypocrites, and I'm sure the same reasoning applies.