Iraq and U.S. Politics 

Iraq and U.S. Politics

Lots of bloggy goodness from Mickey Kaus.

On the politics of Iraq, the Bushies will probably keep saying there is no turning back, we have to see this through, no withdrawal date, etc., while quietly letting statements leak to the effect that troops are going to be withdrawn. There will still be no way for Democrats to outflank Bush by being tough on the war; but it will also be difficult to out-flank him by promising withdrawal by a specific date.

Hillary's problem is that it will be hard to get the Democratic nomination if you were for the war from the beginning--regardless of whether you make big promises to withdraw.

What interests me just as much are Kaus's brief indications of what he sees as the merits of the case. He thinks the fall of Iraq (descent into civil war? only remaining government (other than Kurdistan) a satellite of Iran?) would be a disaster, and it would be wrong--"insane"--for the U.S. to allow that to happen. He says this is very different from the case of Vietnam in the 60s and 70s. Then he was willing to let the government of South Vietnam fall; it seems he still has no regrets about that position.

It still seems significant that, to over-generalize, Democrats started the Vietnam war, and Republicans ended it. Democrats have at least a hazy idea that it started with noble intentions, but they are likely to say as soon as the war turned really sour, the U.S. should have withdrawn completely. 1968? 1970? Something like that. Republicans are likely to say regardless of how it started (and Kennedy and Johnson may have screwed up, etc., much as Bush has arguably done), once the U.S. was massively committed, it was simply unacceptable to withdraw until there was some kind of substitute status quo in place. Nixon was right.

But this means Kaus still rejects "dominoes" in South-East Asia; but he seems to believe in them in the Persian Gulf today. Then, the fear was that Communism would spread; some Republicans say the continued U.S. presence in Vietnam exhausted the relevant Communists, turned Vietnam against Cambodia, thus halting further expansion, and allowed the Asian Tigers to grow. Positive dominoes, or dominoes in reverse.

Today, if Iraq were to fall, then... what exactly would happen?

UPDATE: Kevin Drum continues on these questions.

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