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Three Pieces to Read


Three important Op-Eds today ought to be read in tandem, if you haven’t already. First, there’s Fareed Zakaria’s piece in The Washington Post. Then there are pieces by Edward Luttwak and David Brooks in The New York Times. These are not the sort of folks who can be dismissed by conservatives. In one way or another, they all say that the Bush administration is trying to do too much in Iraq with too little commitment of American troops. Zakaria adds the critical point that we are trying to bring about elections in Iraq too quickly. I understand the political pressures on the administration to reduce America’s footprint in Iraq as quickly as possible. But the hard truth is, we are trying to do too much too fast, and with too few troops. If I have a criticism of the administration, this is it. I’ve been saying since 9/11 that we need more troops. Since a draft is politically unacceptable, we need to expand the military with volunteers. It would have been a whole lot easier to do this a couple of years ago, when the political support would have been available. Unfortunately, we missed that opportunity. I’ve also written at length on the difficulty of bringing democracy to the Arab world. It may well be doable, but it cannot be done quickly. Right now, we are rightly concentrated on the security problem in Iraq. But I am very concerned about the consequences of premature elections. The administration is in a tough position right now. It’s not that the situation in Iraq can’t be fixed. No, the problem is that there is too little political support at home–particularly with the Dems hoping to turn failure in Iraq into an election issue–to do what needs to be done. Maybe the administration will manage to limp along, do the minimum in Iraq, and still win the election. Or maybe the president will take the risk of going to the public and explaining why we simply have to commit more money to build up our military forces. I actually think that would work. If the Democrats make an issue of it, they would reinforce their bad image on defense. But whether the administration will commit the necessary troops, and spend the money it will take to expand our military, is a very open question. In any case, read these three Op-Ed’s.


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