View Full Version : The two sides in this debate.

05-18-2004, 08:57 PM
Fight or Quit (http://www.realclearpolitics.com/commentary.html)

BROOKS & KRUGMAN: What a contrast today. One New York Times columnist remains cautiously optimistic about the situation in Iraq, suggesting that we may yet succeed in the face of adversity as we've done so often throughout our past:

Hope begets disappointment, and we are now in a moment of disappointment when it comes to Iraq. During these shakeout moments, the naysayers get to gloat while the rest of us despair, lacerate ourselves, second-guess those in charge and look at things anew. But this very process of self-criticism is the precondition for the second wind, the grubbier, less illusioned effort that often enough leads to some acceptable outcome...
Remember, the most untrue truism in human history is that there are no second acts in American life. In reality, there is nothing but second acts. There are shakeout moments and, redundantly, new beginnings. The weeks until June 30 are bound to be awful, but we may be at the start of a new beginning now.

The other New York Times columnist lets us know we are headed to certain defeat in Iraq, and then goes on to suggest that defeat is actually preferable to continuing to fund the effort to stabilize Iraq because it is bankrupting America:

So how will it all end? 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.

These two columns do a nice job of capturing the respective views of the left and the right that currently polarize most of the country over Iraq:

* One side believes what we're doing in Iraq is necessary and worthwhile. The other side thinks it is a colossal misadventure and a waste of blood and treasure.
* One side views the difficulties in Iraq as obstacles that can be overcome through perseverance (though not without anxiety). The other side views these difficulties as proof of either the futility of the mission, the incompetence of its leaders, or both.
* One side yearns for victory, so much so that there has often been an inflated sense of optimism and idealism about what we can and will achieve in Iraq. The other side is almost resigned to defeat (and has been since beginning) and for political as well as ideological reasons, the idea of victory in Iraq is viewed with cynicism, indifference, or outright antipathy.

Only history will tell whether Iraq was a mistake or not; whether our goals were too lofty, our vision for the spread of stability and democracy too ambitious, and whether it was a quagmire that swallowed lives and money in vain.

But here is one thing to remember, and one place where I think Brooks is right. History doesn't just happen, it is made. We make it together as a nation. Our collective will and perseverance can accomplish any task - should we decide it truly worthy of our effort. Whether a success or failure, in the end Iraq will be what we choose to make it.

Our forefathers are watching.