alien & sedition.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
  Getting Stabby

At the Weekly Standard (I'm a few days late on this one, but catching up), Robert Kagan and William Kristol manage to blame the failure in Iraq on . . . the Iraq Study Group. It's a neat trick, actually - to equate those searching for ways out of the disaster (which, by definition, would mean withdrawing troops) to the Rumsgoat who can be blamed for not sending enough troops in the first place. Evidently there is no strategic difference between 2003 and 2006-7. In a similar vein, the Germans, having failed to take Moscow in 1941, should really have made an effort to do it in the spring of 1945, instead of wasting all that time mucking around in the streets of Berlin.

I mention the German analogy because, while I have complete respect for Godwin's law, I can't read a sentence like this:
That means the president will have to be, much more than he has been, his own general and strategist.
without imagining the little man ranting over maps in a bunker somewhere, cursing the fecklessness of his generals. With, no doubt, similarly effective results. Anyway, it's probably moot: Hitler was a (demented, evil) overachiever, whereas Bush goes to bed far too early to take on the task of being "his own general and strategist."

Oh, but so: the whole point of the Weekly Standard piece is to beat the drum, yet again, for "more troops" - about 30-60,000 should do (which may be crappy turnout for a Jets game, but is apparently enough people to finally secure a major mideast nation which is currently locked into a savage civil war).

What is all this? This is a Dolchstosslegende in its formative stages. About which more later, but you can see the basic shape, which is always the same: after the war situation has gone well past the point of being disastrously untenable, the hawks are finally relieved of authority and the grown-ups do what they can to clean up the mess. This, in turn, frees the hawks to spend the next two or three decades crafting the myth that, in fact, it was the grown-ups who lost the war - that things were going so well until the nation was stabbed in the back. After all that time, the details - timelines, lies, blunders, elections - tend to get fuzzy, but the stab-in-the-back legend reorganizes, clarifies, provides a bright and convincing new way to remember all those things that happened during that late unpleasantness so many years ago.

That's the historical dilemma facing the Democrats. They were elected, clearly, with a mandate to clean up the Iraq mess. But so often, a party elected with a mandate to clean up messes and do unpleasant things is punished years later, when the crisis is past and the party winds up being identified with the very messes and unpleasant things it had to deal with.

Anyway, here's a proposal: the Democrats should consent to the additional troops, on the condition that any increase in troop levels be directly indexed to the percentage of card-carrying Young Republicans and College Republicans who enlist in the armed forces.

After all, they've got to come from somewhere.


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Critical analysis of the American conservative movement from a progressive perspective. Also some stuff about the Mets.

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