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Holding Action

Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo deconstructs the controversy over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim that “the war is lost.” Marshall says that’s the wrong discussion to be having. “Won” or “lost” are meaningless terms because we aren’t really in a war in Iraq, but a “holding action” designed to keep President Bush from facing “the magnitude of his errors.”

    As the occupation continued, anti-American sentiment—both toward the occupation and America’s role in the world—has only grown. I would submit that virtually everything we’ve done in Iraq since mid-late 2003 has been an effort to obscure this fact.
    We can’t explain who we’re fighting because this isn’t a war, like most, where the existence of a particular enemy or specific danger dictates your need to fight. We’re occupying Iraq because continuing to do so allows us to pretend that the initial plan wasn’t completely misguided and a mistake.
    The reality though is that the disaster has already happened. Admitting that isn’t a mistake or something to be feared. It’s the first step to repairing the damage.

Over the last few years I’ve come to believe this is true. There is no strategy in Iraq any more, except Bush’s desperate need not to admit failure. That makes him like a crazed gunman in a school building, who is all the more dangerous because he realizes that the forces of law and order are closing in. The U.S. military and the nation of Iraq are his hostages. The American people are his enablers, because until now we’ve done nothing to stop him.

Part of this is wishful thinking—we’ve been hoping he would see reason and put the gun down. Part of this is fear—we don’t want to provoke him into doing something even worse. But there comes a point when none of this matters. Excuses run out, and action must be taken. We’ve reached that point now. We need take the gun away from President Bush before he kills anyone else.


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