18 May 2004

krugman thinks we're going to ditch iraq when people get sick of bush: "The cries of "stay the course" are getting fainter, while the calls for a quick exit are growing. In other words, it seems increasingly likely that the nation will end up disowning Mr. Bush and his debts. That will mean settling for an outcome in Iraq that, however we spin it, will look a lot like defeat — and the nation's prestige will be damaged by that outcome. But lost prestige is better than ruin."

so what does "disowning mr. bush and his debts" entail? seems to me that such a course could easily involve abandoning iraq to imposed chaos, and for various reasons i can't imagine a worse idea. americans have such short memories. if we left iraq at this point, it would remain exactly what we have recently created it to be: volatile; terror-friendly; economically devastated. the terrorists who were not linked to iraq before we brought them in with our Adventures In Destabilization would be firmly ensconced and busy plotting badness.

and then what? a few years of historical haziness later, hawks and neocons would be claiming that iraq was a hotbed of terrorism before we made it that way. we would hear about the need to "liberate" other countries. voila! endlessly iterative stupidity. think such a thing couldn't be done? look at the current attempt to rehabilitate vietnam in the service of bush-cheney 2004.

all of which is, of course, secondary to the fact that we will have completely dismantled the lives of millions of iraqis without putting them back together again. apparently we're willing to pay any amount to begin a war and precious little indeed to end one. but this war, and its aftermath, are the responsibility of the united states at least in terms of resources. instead of abandoning iraq for fiscal reasons, we should "abandon" it for moral reasons...having chosen the right reason, we might even be able to do the right thing for once. what is the right thing? keep paying through the nose. divest all authority for the occupation. give it to whichever international body is willing to be involved, because our legitimacy, whatever legitimacy we might have had, is long gone.

doesn't seem likely, though, does it.