Picky and Choosy

I appreciate Congress for appropriating a million bucks to fund the Iraq Study Group, distressed that Congress needed to, and concerned that the resulting bi-partisan consensus could be wasted.

The November 30 Washington Post reported, “The [Iraq Study Group] findings dovetail with recommendations being considered by the military's Joint Chiefs of Staff, who are conducting their own review of Iraq policy.”

The Post continues, “President Bush said earlier this fall that he looked forward to receiving the study group's report to bring fresh perspective to the Iraq crisis. But as some of the options under consideration began to leak out, the White House also ordered its own crash policy review, which began two weeks ago. The administration does not want to be in the position of having to adapt all of the Iraq Study Group report's recommendations, U.S. officials say, and its own review will provide an opportunity to pick and choose options.”

Mr. Bush decided to go it alone in Iraq, without engineering broad, bi-partisan support. He ignored rather than integrated conflicting military and political advice. A lock-step majority said he could. His prior crash policy options bought us Iraq. Now we own it together.

Leadership might mean fixing the fiasco together without anyone claiming credit. Does “we fixed it” sound so politically untenable?

After three and a half years frittering away one opportunity after another, we’re out of options—and patience. Does creating a few eleventh-hour crash policy options from which to “pick and choose” mean that Mr. Bush still doesn’t care about consensus? Rather than cede a precious political position, he chooses to pick and choose?

This administration has worked harder digging in behind misguided strategies than building up bi-partisan consensus. I know building consensus is hard. Reconstructing crashed societies is infinitely harder. He’s lied, lectured, and everything but capably lead. Now that we’re down in this hole together, we could perhaps escape by standing on each other’s shoulders instead of going all picky and choosy. We are down to just about the last choice we’ll get to make in Iraq.

It might be too late, but I still say we should give Democracy a chance. A fresh experience of it here might teach us something important about exporting it over there.


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