Missing the obvious:
The first Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago used to say that "good politics is good government." Contemporary politicians would do well to apply this lesson to the Iraq quagmire. In the midst of trying to gain political advantage, they miss the obvious.
- Obvious point #1: Congress can change the mission. Politicians are stuck on the idea that Congress, because it gave the president approval to go into Iraq, must remove its permission either by fiat or by defunding the war. The problem is that doing so is impractical. First, the president might continue his policies (especially if the effort were not defunded). Second, logistically U.S. troops cannot be removed immediately. It will take months. Third, deciding on the absolute removal of troops, however long it takes, has all kinds of consequences that no one wants to face. On the other hand, Congress can simply declare a more limited mission, one that will allow for the orderly drawdown of troops, and charge the president to carry it out. He probably will--because we don't have the troop strength to do anything more. The advantage to Congress is that they will look like they did something intelligent.
- Obvious point #2: Iraqis are the key to the politics, theirs and ours. Politicians give lip service to this concept, but their behavior says otherwise. Political dialog about what do is conducted as if the Iraqis are not there. Even politicians who have the guts to propose solutions do so as if the U.S. must come up with a solution rather than Iraqis. For example, presidential contender and U.S. Senator Joseph Biden has acknowledged the obvious divisions in Iraqi society and has proposed a kind of partition of the country. Makes sense--except that this or any other solution ought to be up to Iraqis. And why has no one proposed that we ask Iraqis if they they want us to stay? This could be done in the form of a national plebiscite, regional plebiscites, or requests to the Iraqi parliament. Are we afraid of the answer? If they invite us to stay, we are not occupiers. If they ask us to leave, we can declare "mission accomplished" and begin leaving. Wile E.