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Jewish World Review May 17, 2004 / 26 Iyar, 5764

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Editors play armchair general


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Things aren't going well for Team Bush's war in Iraq.

The videos of poor Nick Berg's beheading on the Internet — reality TV no channel will dare broadcast — prove it.

The round-the-clock images of naked Iraqi prisoners, squirming American military leaders and outraged Congress people on our newspaper front pages and TV newscasts prove it.

The Iraqi-themed covers of Time, Newsweek and U.S. News & World Report prove it. So does this week's fresh batch of snapshots of Iraqi prisoner abuse in The New Yorker.

But it's not just professional peaceniks, partisan Bush-haters and the usual nattering liberal nabobs of negativity of mainstream media who are beginning to have the sinking feeling that the war in Iraq needs an extreme makeover.

Even The Weekly Standard — the neoconservative political magazine whose editors and foreign policy gurus have been among the chief architects and most fanatical supporters of invading Iraq — is seeing dark at the end of the tunnel.

Its editorial, "Democracy Now," worries that the Bush administration doesn't seem to recognize "how widespread, and how bipartisan, is the view that Iraq is already lost or on the verge of being lost." Nor does the administration "appreciate how close the whole nation is to tipping decisively against the war."

Editors William Kristol and Robert Kagan, who apparently don't watch much TV, argue that it is, in fact, an overly simplistic, overly pessimistic misperception to believe our occupation of Iraq is unraveling.

Still, they offer up a bold, tricky but perhaps nifty idea they say can save the stumbling Bush White House's bacon and restore the American public's flagging confidence — put Iraq on a faster track to getting its own sovereignty.

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By moving Iraq's scheduled elections from January 2005 to September 2004, they say, American troops no longer will be seen by Iraqis and the Muslim world as an army of occupation but as an army that is defending Iraq's newborn democracy from violence.

Their scheme is no Silver Bullet, they admit. Lots of problems have to be worked out, including suckering the French and Germans to send in some troops to help us.

Kristol and Kagan are not about to turn tail and give up their dream of building a Switzerland on the Tigris. But their plan also involves asking Americans and their politicians to do something they might not have the stomach for — "substantially" increasing the number of U.S. troops and equipment in Iraq to make it safe enough to hold those elections.


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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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© 2002, Bill Steigerwald