The anti-war left has convinced itself that supporting the war is equivalent to supporting the Bush Administration. This is untrue and unhealthy for the American polity. The right course of action is to separate the two, and recognize that one may support the one and oppose the other. The question for them, and for the Democratic Party at large, is: Can they? Can they start proposing ways to victory, rather than ways to retreat? Can they join the soldiers and officers who agree with them on the Bush Administration, but profoundly disagree with them on the goal in Iraq?Aside from the not-so-subtle 'anti-war left' dig, this is a fair question. Though I think the 'noble sacrifice' rationale for staying in Iraq contains something of a gambler's fallacy, I also think Trevino is largely correct in that the optimal outcome would be maintaining a presence until a functional Iraq can exist without our presence (and without becoming an de facto province of Iran.)
Where he goes wrong is ignoring the realities of the choices that appear to be on the table. Which is curious considering he acknowledges the obvious:
There is no point in being a Pollyanna about the situation in that burnt-over country. The official line on the war is long since discredited, and those of us who were optimistic about the prospects there in 2003 now know better. Armando correctly notes my series of essays in which I acknowledge that those of us who believed in the competence of the Administration of George W. Bush to prosecute a war were grievously wrong. I could qualify this in any number of ways: for example, I wrote in fall 2002 (sadly, the website and link are defunct) that invading Iraq was essentially a hail Mary-style diversion, and a tremendous gamble to boot that if unsuccessful would be disastrous. But the bottom line remains the same as that of the staunchest believer in the Administration line — we were wrong.From here, with the tools we have, including the leadership in place until at least this November and probably until 2009, how do we make the best of the situation? As Djerejian has been saying for a month, non-stop, hey-hey, ho-ho, Donald Rumsfeld's got to go...At a certain point, you lose your license no matter how strongly you cling to a claim of being an excellent driver. And yes, that only gets us partway there.
I also posit that Trevino overlooks the extent to which Bush has conflated opposition to him and his policies (both foreign and domestic) with opposition to the war and unpatriotism. Unilaterilism is largely responsible for the present mess, in my opinion, so more voices should be heard, not fewer.
But assuming those neccesary steps are taken, (and to some degree, in their absense), I too want to see the Democrats come up with another way. There may not be a surfeit of good choices, but governing well is hard, and if you want to say more than 'kick the bums out' what are you about? Any serious solution is going to be difficult, and look it. It will have costs. People don't like to hear about costs, but I for one am sick of 'bread and circuses' instead of meaningful governance, and it won't be especially satisfying if the only changes are in who gets the VIP seats at the chariot races.
I guess my real question is this: after we kick the bums out, what's next?