Here's a few choice nuggets from his latest column:
Every time I think the president has exhausted the possibilities of stark rhetoric, I am wrong: Like a preacher with Bible in hand, he keeps coming up with knew formulations of the struggle between good and evil. Strategically, we’re in a giant global game of Texas Hold ‘Em, and Bush, despite a hand that doesn’t look that strong, keeps shoving more chips into the pot.
Despite the fact that the situation in Iraq is nothing like a poker hand, it paints a picture of a stubborn dude committed to playing it out. Had Iraq been like poker, we should have folded before the flop, but too late now. We cannot and should not leave until the job is done.
Which is why I agree with this:
If Iraq risks becoming a failed state, critics say, it’s because we blew it to smithereens in the process of removing Saddam & Co. Our justification for staying now is that we went there to begin with.
I did not think it was wise to invade Iraq over trumped up charges of WMD and 9-11 connections. In fact, I think it was a blunder and I think that all of us, Americans of every stripe, will feel the consequences in the coming years. It may not matter in the long run, life does go on, but I supect very few of us will look back on these years with pride. But we have the opportunity to better our situation, to emerge from the murk and "make it work."
Therein lies the problem. How can you make a failed policy "work?"
Fineman has the same questions:
And what alternative are the Democrats really proposing? What would they have us do? Even the Germans don’t want us to leave Iraq, though they won’t pay much to help us stay. Does anyone think that announcing a timetable for withdrawal really is a good idea? Is Osama bin Laden going to see that as a peace gesture? Are the suicide bombers likely to stop strapping on their vests?
So what do we do now?
Here's a few of my own suggestions:
A) Restore Iraq's infrastructure to pre-invasion levels. Electricity, water, sewage, a free market that discourages the black market, TV, radio, amusement parks, the whole shebang. Give the Iraqi people a way to enjoy life again. This won't be easy, but it's doable with some iniative. And there hasn't been much iniative in that respect.
B) Increase troops levels. Yes, this will be hard too, but it's also doable. Diplomatic efforts should be directed towards getting other countries to contribute, so they don't have to be Americans. At this point, Iraq isn't just a strategic problem. It's a humanitarian one. American leaders should humble themselves, get on their knees and beg for help if they must. Yes, it's humiliating. But so is getting drunk at the office Christmas party and dirty dancing with the boss's wife. In both cases, the fault lies within ourselves, so the humiliation is hardly unearned.
C) DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERRORISTS. Yes, that directive can be somewhat pigheaded, as the whole Israel-Palestine, UK-IRA, Russia-Chechnya episodes illustrate. But I think that in those cases, the continuing terrorist activity owes more to the hard-nosed responses of the governments: bulldozing homes, setting up barricades, targeted assasinations, etc. Terrorists use negotiation to justify their actions, and there is no justification for terrorism.
D) Shut the fuck up about 9-11. Yes, it was a horrible tragedy that changed the course of our country's history. But Bin Laden is still loose, still mentoring Zarqawi, still an inspiration for the like-minded. America is still a target and even more so because of Iraq. Our problems are different now. We are not a peaceful country wounded by an unprovoked and horrible attack. We are an occupying power in a foreign country half way across the world, attacked daily though our buildings are not brought down. (The bodies are still buried, though.) We are uncertain, skeptical, not sure what we're doing or exactly why. 9-11 provided the genesis for all this, but the world has moved on and we must let the past fade and the future proceed.
E) Throw the "liberals in Congress" a bone. A lot of them support the mission in Iraq and they could be allies instead of enemies, but nooooo. The political waters are so sour that even dogs won't drink it. Gay marriage, John Bolton, filibusters, tax cuts, social security, the Patriot Act. Give em something, fer Christ's sake. Maybe a Supreme Court justice? Doubt it.
F) Legalize marijuana. I'm not sure exactly how this would help the war effort, but I have a sinking suspicion that it would.