Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The President and His War

When President Bush addresses the nation tonight, he's going to require an additional 20,000 (or more troops) to be sent to Iraq. In calling for this "surge," he will essentially ignore the recommendations of most of his generals, disregard the advice from the Iraq Study Group, and refute the idea that the 2006 election results were a mandate for withdrawal from Iraq. (Read the details in this excellent Washington Post analysis.)

Full disclosure: I haven't paid a lot of attention to the details of the war because it pisses me off so much. And I confess to being a military neophyte with absolutely no real knowledge of good policy. However, this "surge" rankles me.

The most irksome aspect of it is that the White House will disregard the advice of the generals who are actually in Iraq. Yes, Dick Cheney and George Bush, both of whom have zero years of military experience, will act against the advice of the highest military leaders in the land. Instead, the President and Vice President will follow the advice of Frederick Kagan and Jack Keane. Kagan is a fellow at a think tank (American Enterprise Institute) and Keane is a retired general. It's hard not to think that this war is being driven by academics and think tank minions.

The other bothersome point has to do with the abstract idealism of neoconservatism. As Bill Kristol wrote this week, we do not want to lose this war. We do not want to abandon Iraq. We do want to project an image of weakness. Thus, we must fight to the end. We must stick around, put our idealism to work, and win.

This position bothers me because I agree with it - in theory. I think most people agree with it - in theory. That's why it's called idealism. Indeed, the neoconservative viewpoint carries so much weight because it sounds great in a perfect world. The pinch, however, is that the world is not perfect. Idealism only goes so far. In the past, pragmatism has trumped idealism. In this case, the most pragmatic of them all - the generals and the Iraq Study Group - are being ignored.


Post a Comment

<< Home