We have hit bottom in Iraq. And you know it because the debates over Iraq (whether the war was just, whether we planned it adequately, whether we have a meaningful exist strategy, etc.) have ground to a halt. The big defenders of the war effort have mostly gone silent, or they're no longer taken seriously, and what we're left with is a deficit of ideas all around. There are those who talk about staying in Iraq, but can't articulate a credible strategy for moving forward. And those who talk about leaving, but can't outline how we'll leave Iraq in a morally defensible position. We hear a lot in the way of platitudes, little in the way of substance.
This Fresh Air interview (stream it here) with Thomas Ricks, author of the bestseller Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, helps fill the idea void a bit. (His book, by the way, comes out in paperback later this week.) Having recently returned from Iraq, Ricks talks about the real options now available to the US, and what steps the Bush administration will likely take during its last 18 months. Also, he discusses how the American military has changed its m.o. in Iraq. Gone are the days when politics dictated a sunny outlook and no real plans. Now, adults are running the show, and they're getting a good deal more realistic and pragmatic. But even they recognize that this newfound wisdom is coming perhaps too late.
Related Note: George Packer, the main journalist who covered the war effort for The New Yorker, has recently rolled out a blog for the magazine. It's called "Interesting Times" and it's sure to help fill the idea void as well. Give it a look here.
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