This Anne-Marie Slaughter op-ed has sparked a lot of interesting controversy as to whether it actually is the dumbest article ever, or merely a strong contender for the title. And indeed it sets a high bar for waterheaded reflexive insider Hymns to Meaningless Bipartisanship.
Such hymns are of course never in short supply. Perhaps inspired by Slaughter’s fine performance, David Ignatius now clears his throat to Sing Hosannas to the spirit of the Bipartisan Deity, and it is every bit as wonderful and inspiring as you might imagine. Ignatius’s piece is jaw-dropping astounding right from the get-go:
Try to imagine what was running through the mind of Hassan Kazemi Qomi, Iran’s ambassador to Baghdad, as he sat across the negotiating table from his American counterpart, Ryan Crocker, last week. While the U.S. diplomat delivered his stern warning against Iranian meddling in Iraq, Qomi must have wondered: Why should I listen to this guy? Congress is going to start pulling U.S. troops out soon, no matter what he says.
Fascinating. In the first place, as Ignatius himself notes later on, this is Bush’s war, and under our system, there’s no way he can be persuaded to start “removing troops soon” — even if he is impeached, it’s not clear that would result in immediate American withdrawal from Iraq. This is not a particularly rarefied insight. I bet even the wily Iranians are capable of achieving it.
In the second place, who exactly in Congress is advocating an immediate, reckless withdrawal? Why, absolutely nobody! The specific issue is to do with timetables. Either Ignatius doesn’t know this, which means he’s stupid, or else he does know it, and he’s mendacious. Or perhaps he is just so enchanted by Serious Person Bipartisan Consensus Adoration that it makes him say dumb things. And go on saying them:
That’s the difficulty for Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus as they try to manage a stable transition in Iraq while Congress chants ever more loudly: “Troops out! Troops out!” It’s hard for anyone to take American power seriously when prominent members of Congress are declaring the war already lost.
It’s even harder for anyone to take American power seriously when the war actually is lost — a point that seems to elude Ignatius altogether… except, oddly enough, that it doesn’t:
That’s a lesson retired Air Force Gen. Chuck Boyd tried to impart to a group of newly minted brigadier generals last week. America has never won a war that lasted more than four years, he reminded them, with the exception of the Revolutionary War, when we were the insurgents and it was Britain that tired of the faraway struggle.
Future military planners will have to recognize that American democracy, in which political mandates must be renewed in two-year increments, makes us uniquely unsuited to fight protracted counterinsurgency wars. Petraeus likes to observe that it takes, on average, at least nine years to prevail in such a war. If that measure is correct, Petraeus must know there is little chance that a frustrated and angry American public will grant him enough time for success.
The logic here is amazing: it is impossible to win this war, everyone knows it, but Congress shouldn’t say so because that gives the Iranians ideas they otherwise wouldn’t have had because apparently they are too dumb to perceive the obvious on their own, and also Congress needs to stop calling for the reckless withdrawal they’re not actually calling for. GENIUS!
And I haven’t even gone into how Ignatius cites the fact that the US is now arming Sunni militias as a reason not to withdraw: see, “We are, in effect, arming both sides for this sectarian battle,” and, I suppose, we must complete the process in order to… what, make sure the “coming conflict” is as bloody as possible? Snark fails me…
He ends with a Stern Warning:
The United States is on its way out of Iraq eventually, but it matters powerfully how we disengage — most of all to Democrats, who at this point seem likely to inherit the responsibility for America’s security 18 months from now.
And when they do inherit this complete and utter mess, Ignatius will I am very sure be there from Day One to helpfully point out how it is somehow All Their Fault.
This, you see, is what is truly meant by Bipartisanship.