by J Scott Christianson, Columbia Daily Tribune Columnist
Does anyone remember the so-called “Pottery Barn” principle? This was the concern Colin Powell voiced before the invasion of Iraq: that if you invade a country and end up breaking it, you are responsible for it. At the time, this idea seemed so farfetched to the Bush administration that it dismissed it. What could possibly go wrong with invading and occupying a country in the Middle East? Only those who were unpatriotic suggested the outcome could be a failed state.
Now the Bush administration is starting to admit Iraq is broken. Who is to blame? The Iraqis, of course. Democrats and Republicans alike parrot the idea that it is time for Iraqis to stand up and start doing their job as leaders of their country. You would think it was the Iraqi people who had overthrown Saddam Hussein’s regime and we had simply come to their aid when called. How quickly history is rewritten.
I guess if blaming the Iraqis gives President George W. Bush and Congress the political cover they need to get the United States out of this mess, then so be it. I just wish Bush would admit it is time for dramatic action. The planned “surge” seems to be no more than a delaying tactic. Another 21,000 soldiers might be able to return Baghdad to the level of violence it was experiencing in 2004. But then what? No one seems certain about the next step.
One thing does seem certain — the Iraq war will tear apart the Republican Party in 2007. Potential Republican presidential candidates want to see the war “resolved” in 2007 so they don’t have to run with Iraq as a main topic of the 2008 presidential campaign. Unfortunately for them, and for everyone else, four years of incompetent leadership can’t be fixed in a couple of months. Possible presidential candidate John McCain has already wed himself to the success of the “surge,” and other potential contenders are trying to triangulate their positions.
The Republican Party’s main problem is that the president and his political adviser, Karl Rove, don’t seem to want a resolution to the Iraq conflict in 2007. Politically, the Bush administration’s goal is essentially to stay the course until January 2009. Then, if Iraq works out well, Bush can claim credit for success. If the outcome isn’t good, he can blame his successor for screwing it up. Bush has neither said nor done anything to resolve the Iraq conflict by the end of his term in office. In 2005, Bush said…