These days the Democratic party seems to consist of two wings — the paranoid wing (think Michael Moore) and the schizophrenic wing (think John Kerry during the election). This piece by Madeleine Albright places her in the vanguard of the schizophrenic wing. There are a few early tip-offs — the phrases “missed opportunity” and “no plan” are normally sure signs that someone is going to try to have it both ways on Iraq. (By contrast, “Bush lied” is the calling card of the paranoids).
Albright doesn’t disappoint. In the first portion of her piece, she frets that the Bush administration has failed to increase our troop strength in Iraq to equal the mission, and that President Bush will seize on the upcoming elections to declare “mission accomplished” and slowly begin to abandon the Iraqis. Some of her arguments are silly. For example, she asserts that our Iraq policy depends on the goodwill of Ayatollah Sistani, who has a heart condition. Albright overlooks the fact that we are actually relying more on the opportunism of Sistani and his followers, who are poised to gain a good deal of power through the electoral and constitutional process the administration has launched. Nor does Albright present any evidence that Bush (viewed by most of her fellow Democrats as a cowboy on the verge of invading more countries) is going to abandon Iraq. Nonetheless, her discussion of troop levels and the need to stay the course is enough to suggest that one is reading a serious analysis.
All bets are off, however, when we get to the “how to turn things around” bit. How do we do that? First we use that tried-and-true military/geo-political strategy — we “admit mistakes.” Next, we “emphasize a political instead of a military strategy. (But Albright just told us that the problem is that we “lack a military strategy” and haven’t committed enough troops). After that we “do what it takes to secure the cooperation of Iraq’s neighbors” (what concessions to Iran does Albright have in mind?). And, of course, we cap it all off by wallowing in mistakes we have already admitted to, by “holding senior officials accountable for the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison.” (Does it make any difference whether the senior officials in question are responsibile? Presumably not; we’re talking about therapy).
In this way does Albright take the John McCain diagnosis — insufficient military force — and offer a John Kerry, if not Jimmy Carter, style prescription — breast-beating, de-emphasis of the military, and cooperation with other countries (in this case not even our allies). Was I wrong to use the term schizophrenia?