This time, it's real ones who aren't trying to sell the view through the administration's rosie-hued anything. James Wirtz of the Naval War College, John Mearsheimer, Juan Cole, and Stephen Biddle spoke at the APSA conference, and Robert Farley reports. The most discouraging assessment comes from Mearsheimer:
Mearsheimer argued that Iraq has been and will continue to be a disaster, but that because of domestic politics and institutional dynamics we'll still be there in five years and beyond. The stab-in-the-back narrative that's being prepared by the Republican Party will succeed in scaring a Democratic president and Democratic congress from taking any decisive steps to end the war. At the same time, the senior theater leadership in the armed forces are committed to not losing, due to their perception of the institutional disaster that resulted from the Vietnam War.
It doesn't have to be this way. And it particularly doesn't have to be this way when we're facing the weakest president in a generation and a Republican congress reeling from the 2006 loss and seemingly no end to scandals. This is a Republican party that can be faced down, and the urgency of ending the Iraq debacle demands that it happen.
Which demands leadership. Atrios nails it:
And while the Senate Leader is technically Harry Reid, the real leaders of the Democratic party at the moment are Senators Obama and Clinton. They can get press (if not always fair and accurate press) any time they want. They have a prominent platform and a large megaphone which they could use not simply to inspire voters but to browbeat their colleagues, plot a course of action, enlist their supporters into helping push through a legislative agenda, etc.
They could, you know, lead instead of campaign. The former might even help the latter.
Don't run on past decision or judgements. Don't run on what you're going to do about Iraq in 2009. Run on what you are doing now, in 2007, to lead us out of Iraq. Show us that leadership, now. That doesn't go for just the presidentials, but for every incumbent Democrat who is going to be asking for our vote in 14 months.