5 November 2003

This Can't Go On

For sure, good things are happening in Iraq. But are we making the kind of progress that would allow us to withdraw large numbers of soldiers, and greatly reduce casualties, in the fairly near future? That's a hard case to make.

Yet we keep expecting a magic solution. We'll get European, Indian and Pakistani forces to help us! But since we went to war without international support, they're not interested. We'll bring in the Turks! But the Iraqi Governing Council itself is bitterly opposed. We'll engage in 'Iraqification,' creating local forces that take the place of American troops! Let's hope that works - but hope is not a plan.

Just as the federal government is in no immediate danger of running out of money, our forces in Iraq are in no danger of outright defeat. But in both cases, current policies appear to be unsustainable: we can't go on like this indefinitely. And things that can't go on forever, don't.

I feel guilty whenever I link to a Krugman piece because I know about a thousand other bloggers are rushing lemming-like to do the same. All the same, Stein's law does apply and Iraq cannot go on forever.

This is what happens when you get a government led by someone who has failed again and again and always been rescued by mysterious corporate benefactors. The new military benefactors who are always just around the corner, most recently the Turks, just never seem to appear.

Bush seems to share with Blair the weird feeling that if you only believe hard enough, it's true. Talking Points Memo points to a White House transcript that has the president telling the Australian parliament he 'seeks a free China'. The official Hansard of that speech says: 'seeing a free China'. It's a little example beside his other clangers, but it runs true to form for someone who believes what he says or does is of little importance if it can be explained away.

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