I come with the question and neither an answer nor an attitude:
So how would you solve Iraq?
And, no, “getting the hell out of there” is not an acceptable answer, dooming the Iraqis to the civil war many have already declared, and to worsening bloodshed and anarchy. From a humanitarian — that is, a liberal — perspective, we cannot abandon these people to such terror.
Neither is it acceptable to answer the question with the question, “How the hell did we get there?” We’re there. Madeline Bunting in the Guardian and in Comment is Free insists that we cannot be “deleting the past.” I will stipulate that along with much more: that the war is not over and we cannot see the end, that the preparation and execution of this policy have not worked, that the incumbents do not know what to do. So fine, if we acknowledge all that, if we end the argument, where are we? Still in Iraq. Still in the mess.
Norm Geras does not agree. He is a fellow Commenter and, like me, a liberal hawk and a warblogger, as we used to be called. Geras blogged his response to Bunting here, refusing her call to account, refusing to confess that this war and the one in Afghanistan are failures and that democracy will not work there. He will not apologize.
But even if he and I and all the hawks, liberal or conservative, agreed to agree with Bunting et al, we are all still no closer to peace in Iraq. Bush and Blair do not have the solution. So what is yours? You must find one, for just as you cannot abandon the Iraqis to this mess we got them into, you cannot abandon policy to those who made the mess, right? What is the liberal solution? That should be the agenda now.
So you are the prime minister or the president tomorrow. You have inherited this unholy war. You recognize your humanitarian obligation to the Iraqi people as well as to your own soldiers and citizens. You are now setting the agenda, now in charge. So what are you to do? If you don’t come up with a new answer, all we will have is the old one.
This is not a smart-assed question. It is the question we should be answering. What can the U.S. and the U.K. do now? The United Nations? The European countries who opposed this war? The Arab nations? The left? I am honestly eager to see your answer. We need one.
: Cross-posting to Comment is Free, which is why I wrote it: to read the comments there.