Bad ideas

Bad ideas
: Yesterday, I never got around to blogging the confluence of bad ideas I saw in the Times: both Tom Friedman and Wesley Clark suggesting that somehow, the solution to tough problems in Iraq — and Israel — is to be found in Saudi Arabia. Good God, is that a trap.

Today, John Podhoretz in the Post does a better job than I would have of compiling all the bad ideas being put forward for Iraq:

Wesley Clark, the Democratic presidential candidate, has a plan: The Saudis should go hunting for terrorists while NATO takes over as the military and civilian authority in Iraq.

John Kerry has a plan: The United States should go to the United Nations and get a resolution creating a U.N. military force under American command.

Howard Dean has a plan: “The most important step we can take in Iraq today is to internationalize the forces stationed there, particularly by bringing in Muslim and Arabic-speaking troops,” the Democratic front-runner has said.

Dennis Kucinich, a longshot leftist rival of Clark’s, has a plan: The United Nations should take over entirely from the United States in Iraq.

These aren’t really plans. They’re fantasies – fantasies of escape….

And there are fantasists within the administration as well. They think the answer to the current difficulties is to force Iraqis to take on more and more of the security and political management of the country. The Iraqis need to “step up to the plate,” as one leading official says. What he means is that we want them to “step up to the plate.” The problem is that the baseball stadium isn’t quite finished and the ballplayers haven’t completed spring training. They need time.

What’s needed, on the part of the United States, is a unique combination of attitudes – an urgent calm. We will succeed in Iraq because failure is not an option….

We need to win democracy in the Middle East. We need to defeat terrorism in the Middle East. It’s going to take struggle and sacrifice. If we do not succeed, the alternative is continued terrorism and threat right here. So we must succeed. We must have the fortitude to succeed on our own.

There are no easy answers — or easy outs.