Saturday, June 10, 2006

Holbrooke: iraq worse than Vietnam

...former Clinton U.N. Ambassador Richard Holbrooke's dark statement that Iraq is "worse than Vietnam."

Holbrooke made his comments during a panel on the use of force. As Suzanne blogged:

[Holbrooke] and our own Mort Halperin now agree that Iraq is worse than Vietnam both in its consequences and the policy challenge posed by the need to extricate. Neither thought they would ever say that about any foreign policy quandary. It's astonishing that with 1000 days left Bush is already saying he plans to hand this to his successor - its a guaranteed 2000+ more casualties. Plus our international standing will only continue to wane.

What Holbrooke argued was this: President Bush has already expressly acknowledged -- even affirmed -- that Iraq will be a problem he will hand off to his successor. Holbrooke then very carefully, and ominously, took us through the richochet-like sequence of consequences: the successor inherits Iraq and is bedeviled by it starting in 2009; Iraq becomes not a but the issue during the successor's reelection campaign in 2012; Iraq skews domestic and foreign policy during the successor's lame-duck term; Iraq continues to entrap the candidates running for President in 2016.

Holbrooke intoned all of this as if he were reciting a dirge. Ominous is far too light of a word, and if he was only pessimistic he might as well have been dancing. Holbrooke seemed haunted and depressed by the darkness of a vision, and unquestionably convinced of the central premise of his vision -- that Iraq is "worse than Vietnam."

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