Via Digby, I found a couple of articles that really go hand in hand.
The first is an analysis of Gen. Petraeus’ testimony for what it reveals about Bush’s real goal in Iraq at this point:
The talk in Washington on Monday was all about troop reductions, yet it also brought into sharp focus President Bush's plans to end his term with a strong U.S. military presence in Iraq, and to leave tough decisions about ending the unpopular war to his successor.The second is a brilliant discussion of what America’s response to 9/11, led by this President, says about us – and how low Bush’s policies have taken us as a nation:
Like a vibration that causes a bridge to collapse, the 9/11 attacks exposed grave weaknesses in our nation's defenses, our national institutions and ultimately our national character. Many more Americans have now died in a needless war in Iraq than were killed in the terror attacks, and tens of thousands more grievously wounded. Billions of dollars have been wasted. America's moral authority, more precious than gold, has been tarnished by torture and lies and the erosion of our liberties. The world despises us to an unprecedented degree. An entire country has been wrecked. The Middle East is ready to explode. And the threat of terrorism, which the war was intended to remove, is much greater than it was.Clearly, Bush’s successor is going to have a monumentally difficult job - one that almost seems impossible to envision. Nevertheless, here’s my somewhat utopian suggestion on where to start:
On Day 1, announce that the invasion of Iraq was a horrible and immoral mistake, but because the American people enabled it, we have an obligation to the rest of the World to follow through in order to help bring some degree of safety and security to the Middle East and to the rest of the World. Announce that we can’t do it on our own, and that we need to engage our friends in helping to undo what we have created, for the benefit of all of us. Announce that we will immediately turn Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, etc. over to the International Criminal Court at The Hague to be prosecuted for war crimes - as a sign of good faith.
On Day 2, begin a major diplomatic effort to build a real coalition of nations united to fight terrorism throughout the world, starting in the Middle East (we could call it, say, the “United Nations.”) Perhaps, with the involvement of troops from many countries, in a model similar to the one used in the Balkans, we might actually be able to bring positive change to the region. If we can’t do it together, then the only option would be to pull out and focus, still in coordination with our partners, on containing the violence so that it doesn’t spread to the rest of the World.
On Days 3 through Infinity, be honest and gracious with those who contribute to the coalition, and be fair but firm in coordinating discipline for those who don’t. Hope that over time, our integrity and consistency will allow trust and admiration to replace scorn and derision from the partners we will need in order to keep the World safe!
Well, that, and ponies for everyone!