Monday, January 08, 2007

How do we decide to finish with Iraq?

James Traub presents the question of the day. Every decision that Bush has made about Iraq has led to a deeper disastor, so it is right to be suspicious that his next one will be as bad or worse than all the others. [His appointment of Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno (Bio) as the new ground commander of troops does not give me a lot of hope that the track record will be changed.]

But the complexities of the situation make every possible decision one that hurts a lot of people and pleases few. James Traub lays out the nature of the problems. They remain complex, but at least he gives us some clue. Think about this:
The Hippocratic tie-breaker—"Above all, do no harm”--works well enough among merely bad choices, but not here, where we’ve already done immense harm and are bound to a great deal more no matter how we choose.

Instead, we have to ask both how to mitigate the harm and how we will apportion it between the Iraqis and ourselves. And also: Are there short-term harms we must accept in order to avoid much greater damage down the road?
Go read James Traub's post at TPM Cafe.

Read quickly. The situation in Iraq changes so fast that this may not be all that accurate in a few months.

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