Sunday, July 30


The roundtable on This Week this morning was probably one of the most foreboding discussions I have heard in recent years by news analysts. The mood was somber, nearly hopeless.

All agreed that Israel is fighting a losing battle. They're justified in a response to Hezbollah violence, but what they're doing just plain ain't working and is akin to the U.S. stupidity in Iraq. Insurgencies simply cannot be defeated by millitary action.

They agreed that the Bush administration has been a disaster in foreign policy. That refusing to talk with Syria, Iran, North Korea, etc. and trying to isolate them puts us in the untenable position of rewarding bad behavior when we're FORCED to talk to them after they begin to develop nuclear weapons. They seemed to agree that Condi Rice has caved and taken the party line by reverting to cowboy diplomaccy, neglecting the painstaking, sustained diplomatic dialogues with contentious countries that is required to maintain stability.

Jay Carney of Time made an interesting point when he pointed out that the U.S. military seems to have suffered an unfortunate trauma after Vietnam. Through all the years since, the training manuals have neglected to even mention the word insurgency, even though that is the modern challenge, asymmetrical warfare. (This in response to the statement by Army Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli about the situation in Iraq: "Quite frankly, in 33 years in the United States Army, I never trained to stop a sectarian fight," he said. "This is something new.")

Newsweek's Fareed Zakaria said Maliki was the last hope of the U.S. in Iraq, and he has failed to deliver. He suggested it's time for the U.S. to give the Iraqi government two months to come up with a plan to draw down the insurgency, withdraw its troops to Kurdish territory and wait. George Will added regarding Maliki, "It's more than that. His Interior Ministry itself could be called a terrorist organization."

In the few minutes that the panel discussed the political ramifications of all this, they all seemed to agree that the best Democratic political ads could be created by compiling a series of clips from Donald Rumsfeld's press conferences. "He lives in a parallel universe," said Zakaria. Will opined that some clever Democrat will at some time stand up and ask the American people, "Do you feel safer" than you did before Bush and the Republicans took power. And the answer, he implied, is obviously a resounding "No!"

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