The Spine

Iraq: What Next?


I've been reflecting on the 17 pieces in our "Iraq: What Next?" issue. And, frankly, I am very proud of what our editors--Frank Foer, Richard Just, Kate Marsh--have produced. (These articles are being parceled out to you over ten or twelve days, which is another reason why you should also subscribe to the hard copy edition--very inexpensive, by the way.) No one really agrees with anyone else. This is a sign of the times, perhaps the sign of the times. Only one contributor wants the United States to just pull out, Vietnam style, so to speak. And this reflects the public at large.

Among even those who are very much against the war, few indeed think picking up and leaving would be either just or even militarily appropriate. This is very different from the Vietnam era when George McGovern persuaded lots of people that we should leave by a date certain, and by a date certain they did, leaving Vietnam ... We'll leave Vietnam for another time, maybe never.

The difference between attitudes towards Vietnam and Iraq was reflected in the election. Ned Lamont, the echt McGovernite candidate, lost, and Joe Lieberman won--with many opponents of the war casting their ballots for him. This meant that the enraged bloggers also lost, and they lost big-time. After all, even with a Democratic victory and soon-to-be Speaker Pelosi on his side, John Murtha (who staked his very tarnished reputation on a strident against-the-war stance) lost to Steny Hoyer for majority leader. Anyway, it is comforting that the people have not been mesmerized into thinking that withdrawal is an apt solution to an ethically and strategically intricate dilemma.

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