Thursday, December 14, 2006

Bush did this to me

So today I Google-newsed my favorite possible '08 candidate (run, Wes, run!) and stumbled across an interesting article from the New York Observer. "The Life and Death of an Iraq Plan" is about the rise and fall of explicitly endorsing partition, federal autonomy, or what is sometimes called "kinder, gentler ethnic cleansing" in Iraq. Too much attention is paid to Joe Biden, as usual, and then Wes Clark is interviewed about why he doesn't support the idea:
Wesley Clark, the retired general who is also mulling a presidential bid also told me that while partitioning may eventually occur, or already be happening, in Iraq, it could never be official United States policy.

The problem, he said, is that Iraqis forced to move out from their homes or from the more mixed urban areas like Baghdad or Kirkuk to the strongholds of their respective ethnic or religious group will associate their displacement with the United States. Clark said that feeling will breed even more resentment towards America.

"'Bush did this to me,' That's what they'll say," said Mr. Clark. "Bush drove me out of my home. Or they will name some Democratic Senator. It could come to that but it can't be what we want."
Note what Clark is doing here. First, he's not playing a political game: instead, he's answering the question. (How rare is that, huh?) He's thinking about the inevitable end-game, and tacitly acknowledging the end of Iraq, which after all is an artificial nation from the get-go. But he gets the real costs to America in supporting this end explicitly. The phrase Bush did this to me is so clear, so succinct, so on-target, that it's tempting simply to use it as an accurate catch-phrase for what's gone wrong in the last six years:

The collapse of my house value?
Bush did this to me

The transfer of my income to the wealthy?
Bush did this to me

The climate my children will inherit?
Bush did this to me

See? No matter what, you'll probably be at least partly right.

But here's the thing: it hurts all of us when Iraqis say that -- accurate as they might be. Partly because the Senate was stupid enough to trust Bush with the war resolution, we're all to blame. Wes Clark understands how Bush's massive failures taint us all.

So although I want us to pull out yesterday, I think Clark may be on to something when he advocates something less drastic than what many of us (me included) want. Even in this brief interview, it's clear that Wes understands the facts on the ground better than anybody else who is quoted. This interview shows the subtlety of his approach, his close attention to what is happening, and his commitment to realistic and long-range foreign policy.

Cross-posted from Daily Kos

1 comment:

Razovsky said...

Kucinich in 2008!