In the past few days, the blogosphere has seen an argument between two highly respected websites regarding Iraq and our intentions and potential exit-strategies for the current occupation. Andrew Sullivan wrote a very well reasoned, though not entirely convincing "fisking" of an editorial that first appeared in the print version of National Review. Rich Lowry has now responded. Ramesh Ponnuru and Jonah Goldberg have weighed in as well in NRO's The Corner.
To address the arguments directly, I find that both make very good points. I did not find that NR suggested we leave as soon as possible with the work not done. I found it to be more of a realist argument that we must not have illusions regarding our role there. As suggested in another post, in the end this is Iraq's place to develop a true democratic spirit. We cannot force it. We must begin to allow them to make these crucial decisions on their own. Further, I do not think that handing the keys of power over to Iraq means that we leave completely. I don't think this is what NR has said either. But we must honor our pledge of the June 30th deadline for such. Just as cutting and running would convince the terrorists that we are not serious and thus lead to far worse bloodshed, so too would going back on our word lead to cynicism and distrust from the very people we have attempted to help. It's a tricky game and we must straddle the line carefully. It seems both Sullivan and Lowry are suggesting that very thing, in perhaps different ways.
Further, I must say, you simply do not find this type of well-reasoned argument on the opposite side of the political spectrum here in the U.S. or across the world really. Most of their arguments are intellectually dishonest, usually trying to find some key phrase or odd contradictory statement that suggests, "See, we were right." Whether it's "all about oil" or "Bush lied", these types of arguments do not address the fundamental issues surrounding the War on Terror, especially as seen during the Iraqi War phase, or regarding the fight against the ideology of Islamofascists in general. Until the left can address these issues realistically with honest thought and argument rather than simply ankle-biting, I do not see how they can be taken seriously to lead this country through the difficult times ahead. Read the above and come to your own conclusions. Perhaps you do not agree, but there are ways to do that without resorting to "Bush is Hitler." That is all.