From the Washington Post:

“… the assumption that the United States could create a liberal, constitutional democracy in Iraq defies just about everything known by professional students of the topic. Of the more than 40 democracies created since World War II, fewer than 10 can be considered truly “constitutional” — meaning that their domestic order is protected by a broadly accepted rule of law, and has survived for at least a generation. None is a country with Arabic and Muslim political cultures. None has deep sectarian and ethnic fissures like those in Iraq.”

The Republican response to Democratic maneuvering in the House and Senate has been, “don’t just tell us the President’s wrong, give us an alternate strategy.” Increasingly, the response (if not from elected Democrats themselves, then from some in the media) has been, “pull out.” Over the last few years I’ve resisted such talk. It’s not like I have any say, but I can have an opinion (can’t I?). No matter what reason we went, or what mistakes were made in the past, we made this mess and we’ve got a unique responsibility to clean it up. That’s what I thought anyway.

Now I’m not sure the responsibility question is the right question. The question I ask myself these days is, “can we clean it up?” Does the existing evidence suggest the answer to this question is ‘no?’ What if our presence in Iraq only serves to make matters worse? If that is the case, perhaps we have a unique responsibility to pull out.

But what about the “surge?” Have you noticed that every time the administration refers to the early success of the “surge” they mention the (somewhat) reduced level of violence in Baghdad? Is it merely coincidence that they do not address the level of violence in the rest of the country? Are there previously secure towns and provences that are no longer secure because of the “surge” of troops into Baghdad? Will the level of violence stay down in Baghdad only so long as we remain “surged?”

Setting aside conservative talk of “Defeat-o-crats,” or insinuations about the size of anti-war protesters’ genitalia, do the Democrats have a plan? We hear about time tables, conditional spending, the study group, and force protection; but does this constitute a plan? Since technically speaking, it is a:

scheme, program, or method worked out beforehand for the accomplishment of an objective

… it’s a plan. Saying it’s not strikes me as hyperbole. It may not be a GOOD plan, or even a plan that I agree with, but it’s a plan. Seeing as how Syria and Iran haven’t exactly had a stabilizing effect on Lebanon… I’m not convinced the Iraq study group is on target with the “stability through neighborly diplomacy” angle.

Now I’m seriously conflicted. How is it that I can seemingly agree with both Republicans and Democrats? The primary talking point for Democrats on the Iraq war is the idea that it was a misguided war, diverting attention from the real “War on Terror.” Republicans will respond that Iraq is the primary front in the “War on Terror” today. I don’t have a problem with either of these positions.

Here’s my biggest fear concerning the Mess ‘o Potamia (thank you Jon Stewart): the Democrats (with the support of the masses) will arrange a pull-out. Fifteen years from now our current (political-idiot-savant) President (Dubya) will undergo a transformation in the minds of historians: from foolish to prescient. That’s when the biggest foreign policy-self fulfilling prophecy will come to fruition. Iraq will have become an international menace – precisely because the war turned it into the worldwide headquarters for ne’er do wells, AND because we left it to rot after we imploded it.

Here’s one (mostly) undisputed conclusion about our current position: the administration made big mistakes conducting this war, and made all the wrong assumptions in determining the manner in which it has been run. Here’s a conclusion I share with a few fellow Democrats: we made Iraq the front on terrorism that it has become.

So who do you trust? Do you go with the folks that have a four year history of failure, or the folks with no history and no plan (that you can support)? Here’s a bit of hyperbole of my own: neither side has a plan.

Give the gift of words.