I think there's some truth to the conventional wisdom. I expect that the grownups are going to be involved, at least, in Imperial management. And the grownups are not nearly so gratingly stupid as is Dubya. They are nuanced. They are effective managers. They are somewhat efficient.
Regrettably, what they are not is, well ... principled.
Various grownups are prescribing substantial withdrawals of the legions from Iraq:
The debate roiling Washington cuts across partisan divides and has led to some odd bedfellows.I recall hearing this from some of the Sunday teevee talking heads this week, too: withdrawals as a tactic for putting pressure on those accursed Eye-rackies. As the news article suggests, this realism encompasses what would seem to be some highly unlikely right-left combinations. This is golly-gee-whiz amazing -- always assuming that you think the "right" and "left" in modern America are really substantially different. If, however, you simply see two nearly-identical congregations in the Church of Statism, the amazement factor drops off very quickly.
The troop reduction and pullback options suggested by Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in a Nov. 6 memo reflected a convergence between the White House and positions long-advocated by staunch critics of the administration's policy.
Rumsfeld's option to begin modest troop reductions to put pressure on the Iraqi government is very similar to an amendment sponsored by Senator Carl Levin, the Michigan Democrat who will soon take over as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, although the defense secretary resisted the idea of setting a firm timeline.
The parallel between Rumsfeld's favored options and the Democratic agenda is so close that Senator John Kerry, the Massachusetts senator and presidential prospect, has all but claimed credit for them. "Look, everything in the Rumsfeld memo is a summary of things that I and others laid out three years ago," Kerry said on CNN on Sunday. "This is rather extraordinary."
Notice what we don't hear: anyone saying that we ought to get out of Iraq next week because we're wrong to be there. We don't hear anyone saying that what the Iraqis deserve from us is not pressure, but a sincere apology, delivered from over our shoulders while we march, double-time, out of their land.
Yes, everybody's against the war now. But the huge majority of the opponents are against it because it was stupidly mismanaged, or because we weren't sufficiently Klingonesque in prosecuting it (the "glassed-over Iraq" crowd), or because it temporarily made Republicans into a powerful, if befuddled, majority in Washington. For some, the lesson will be "keep the Democrats in power!" Others, remembering the post-Vietnam spin, will be busily preparing the Dolchstosslegende. All of which will pave the way for the next application of the Ledeen Doctrine: "Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business." There's no reason to expect the Democrats -- or the realist, grown-up Republicans -- to have any real problem with the application of that doctrine.