I am all for Congress sinking its teeth into the problem, keeping the pressure on, and finding a way to minimize U.S. losses. I agree that the situation has been destablized by the U.S. invasion and further violence will ensue with or without U.S. presence. I also know that our allies will not support our current course.
We know that Bush does not and will not hear these arguments. When you look at the comments following the transcript of the Hugh Hewitt interview with Odom (thanks again to Mojoman), you can see that there are many readers who believe what they want to believe, and reject Odom’s argument for reasons they consider to be logical and valid.
So I’m pondering how to be constructive. Is there a way to win over the President and some of his true believers (in Congress and elsewhere) by offering a positive frame for the withdrawal of American troops?
We know that it does not have to be a substantive policy change to attract their attention – the administration loves superficial symbols. Bush believed he was sending a positive message when he staged the big “Mission Accomplished” photo op. Purple ink on the finger of each voter. We know that he likes to think of himself as The Decider. He is probably trying to envision the “Operation Iraqi Freedom” room in his future presidential library. He wants to appear to have been a good leader in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. He says he was avenging the past threats against his father by deposing Saddam. Although he has botched a lot of the diplomatic opportunities, he likes having one-on-one buddies like Prince Bandar, Tony Blair and Vladimir he can invite to Camp David.
Can we harness some of these Bush values and use them to bring him on board for a phased withdrawal?
If you don’t think that a frame is enough to sway the administration, maybe we can also offer to sweeten the deal by constructing a positive legacy for the administration. Let Halliburton focus on reconstruction of the Gulf Coast and a lot of other threatened coastal areas. (I do hesitate to offer national health care to them, but it might be worth it to get them to turn their thoughts away from Iraq.)
First of all, it will require, from Congress at least, public acknowledgment that the president’s policy is based on illusions, not realities.
Agreed. But. While some people continue to make the point that our Iraq policy and the rationale for invasion are a crock, we might get a more practical outcome if some of us are also working to give the President a way to declare victory and go home.