Monday, February 26, 2007

On how many points can I find issue with Lieberman's op-ed in today's WSJ? Let me count the ways...

First, his belief that American soldiers should be sacrificed to prevent "a spiral of ethnic cleansing and slaughter on a scale as yet unseen in Iraq". Cold as it seems, our military should only be used to protect America and not to keep Iraqis from killing one another.... or in Yugoslavia... or in the Sudan... or anywhere else where American lives and property are not at risk.

Two, his argument that those arguing care more about the political fight here than the real fight there. Does he really think those arguing don't care about what is happening in Iraq, that we're arguing solely to have something to argue about? Regardless of which side one takes, we're arguing about Iraq because what happens there matters a lot to us and it's insulting (but typical) for Lieberman to suggest otherwise.

Three, his focus on 'holding' neighborhoods as an end in of itself. What matters long term is whether the Sunnis and Shiites ever decide to live together and share power and resources. It's funny in a sad sort of way, that so many (including Lieberman) who recognize that the Palestinian/Israeli conflict won't be solved until the Palestinians truly accept Israel don't see the same holds true here. Clearing neighborhoods won't do anything so long as the crazies hate one another and prefer to fight than to settle and share power. And nothing I've seen from Petraeus addresses how he/we are going to go about getting them to, in the words of (I believe) Golda Meir, love their kids more than they hate their neighbors.

Fourth, his statement that "Many of the worst errors in Iraq arose precisely because the Bush administration best-cased what would happen after Saddam was overthrown". Precisely? He doesn't know that, and nobody else does either. While every armchair general is free to speculate, nobody knows what would have happened had we done something else. It's possible that things are actually better now than they would have been had the Administration been more pessimistic; it is possible the situation could have been worse, far worse, and it's silly for anyone to claim to know for sure that decision A led to situation B.

Fifth, his insistence that we take 'time out' and give Petraeus time. Why bother, if we're convinced it won't work? From my perspective, all we're doing by waiting is throwing more good American lives away... after those that have been, yes, wasted.