Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Deeper Into the Wilderness

Obama v Bush. The rise of Barack Obama is further evidence that American politics is more unsettled than it's been at any time since the sixties. Obama's admirers view him as a person who can get the country out of the intense partisanship of the Clinton/ Bush years. However, I would like to suggest that the Obama boom is fueled by the dream of a world without the right-wing--an America without the right's viciousness and arrogance, an America without the drumbeat of wedge issues, an America without the Iraq War, and an America that is more at peace with itself. Obviously, the Obama surge is bad news for Hillary Clinton, but it might be even worse news for the future of the Republican Party. If the Bush administration is not careful, the war in Iraq could keep the Republicans in the wilderness for the next generation as the nation lurches away from the era of right-wing government.

The Nightmare Option. One of the real dangers of the present is the disconnect between the Bush administration and the American public. The Bush administration has conducted the war so poorly that large majorities of the public have given up and want to withdraw. As a result, the U. S. no longer has a government that is credible with the American public. Ironically enough, it looks like the Bush administration is preparing reckless new initiatives in Iraq to re-establish a credibility that was lost because of their arrogance and recklessness. The outlines of President Bush's response to the Iraq Study Group are emerging and it looks like he wants first to reshuffle the Iraqi government to exclude Moqtada al-Sadr and then to attack Sadr's Mahdi Army in the Sadr City slum of Baghdad and other cities in Southern Iraq. The idea is that the removal of Sadr and his militia will make it possible for Shiite, Sunni, and Kurd politicians to form a government of real national unity.

This idea is so breathtaking in its foolishness that only the Bush administration could have thought of it. Of course, there wouldn't be much difficulty in defeating the Mahdi Army militarily and either arresting or killing Sadr. The problem is the the U. S. military would have to turn all of the towns and cities dominated by the Mahdi Army into more Fallujahs and Ramadis in order to destroy Sadr's military and social apparatus. Without Sadr, the Shiite militia movement would fragment in the same manner as the Sunni insurgency with Shiite guys from all over Baghdad and the Southeast taking up arms to fight the American occupiers and their Sunni "terrorist" allies. Not only would the anarchic situation in Baghdad get worse, but other Shiite towns and cities would start looking more like Baghdad.

Back to America. Projecting into the future, it looks like the Bush administration and the American right-wing are going to go down swinging in Iraq. This will only compound the current disaster. In many ways, the weak solutions offered by the Iraq Study Group have served as an indication of the extent to which the current American elite is not capable of devising a credible strategy for dealing with Iraq. If the Bush administration goes after Sadr over the next couple of years, the situation will be that much worse when a new President is elected. By that time, Bush will have led our country much deeper into the wilderness.

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