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Conservatively liberal, moderately well-educated, and highly opinionated...

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Friday, November 25, 2005

And then there’s the third possibility...

When I was growing up, my father and I played a game in which there was always another possibility. Simple things like whether or not we should go to the store sometimes led to ridiculous alternatives (stand on our heads in the front yard instead), but we never failed to find other ideas. They are almost always there.

It was a lot of fun, but it was much more than silliness. It taught me how to think out of the box… and that type of thinking is desperately needed now for Iraq.

Listening to the political pontificators, one would assume there to be only two choices: leave now, or stay until it’s all better. Are those really the only options?

Of course not. This Gordian Knot is only impossible if we remain locked in an American-centric approach. We need to change the variables – rethink all the preconceptions that have us polarized and paralyzed. For instance: What are the possibilities if … say… the UN and/or surrounding Arab countries stepped into the security vacuum our exit will create? As a former Pentagon strategist said (from the CSMonitor):

"To me, the only hope now is to recast the moral foundation of the invasion by getting a combination of Arab governments and a number of Western and Asian states involved - perhaps through some sort of international conference,"
Obviously, Iraq would not end up the way Cheney and the other PNAC ideologues envisioned – but it isn’t going to, anyway. As this political scientist said,

"The strategic rationale really doesn't have much to do with why we went in to begin with, because that's washed away," he continues. "The strategic rationale now is we can't leave, because all hell would break loose, which would redound to our disadvantage strategically. There's a certain element of truth to that."
There’s much more than "a certain element of truth" there, and strategically, we are already at an astounding disadvantage. However, any new approaches are going to require a much humbler America. As I once wrote,

Rather than isolating, we need to re-approach our traditional allies – those we spurned going into Iraq - and invite them into an international solution. Some sacrificial diplomatic lamb will have to stand in front of the UN and apologize for our hubris – and then ask for help.
They sacrificed Colin Powell going into Iraq. Who will they sacrifice coming out?