What’s our end game in
Someone—I forget who—asked Crocker a question, which amounted to the same thing I’ve been asking—how will we know when we’ve won. Crocker’s answer was a marvel of diplomatic obfuscation—this guy has not spent nearly 20 years as an ambassador for nothing. But if you listened with care, you could grasp that under the gobbledygook, there was an assertion.
As I understood him, Crocker said little or nothing about “democracy,” and not a whole lot about a unified central government. Well he might not: as Chuck Hagel pointed out this morning, four southern provinces have already hived off on their own, under leadership that would hardly pass the Eleanor Roosevelt test. And it is our money that is supporting our former enemies, the Sunni sheikhs who are fighting AQI. And I take it for granted that the ambassador knows about the Hunt’s direct deal with the Kurds for oil.
So, we’ve given up on democracy and we’ve given up on a unified
It’s politically untenable to make this case out loud, not least because it is such a mean comedown from our grandiose expectations. But under the circumstances, it doesn’t sound to me like a bad outcome—I can’t think of a better, and I can think of a lot worse.
If this is our game plan, Crocker and Petraeus are probably about as well equipped as anybody to achieve it. There are a million ways it can still go wrong. And there are real questions about whether we have the resources, forget about the resolve, to do it. But there is the remotest chance they might get lucky. If so, an irony is that the beneficiary of their good luck might be the next Democratic president.