THE RETURN OF...

THE RETURN OF POTTERY BARN. I'll second Matt's comments below; so much as George Bush's staggering incompetence should have a prime part in the Democratic production of "No Sequel: Why We Shouldn't Fight Iran," to build the whole argument around Bush himself would be a profoundly unstable edifice for the anti-war camp. Indeed, it would take little more than Bush replacing Don Rumsfeld with some media-recognized vessel of establishment gravitas and hardheaded competence to short-circuit the argument. Imagine if noted warmonger John McCain were ushered into the cabinet, or if some retired general were brought in to replace Dick Cheney. No, the aura of competence is something the Bush administration can reclaim, what Democrats need to do is discredit this war as a concept.

Luckily, I don't reckon that'll be so tough. The great gift of the Iraq War, for Republicans, was its apparent ease. During the selling period, word on the street was we were going to invade, occupy, and rebuild the country with four bearded men and a terrier, all for the price of a venti Frappucino. Those who dissented from that view, like Erik Shinseki and Larry Lindsay, were summarily dismissed. But war is hard, and the crushing regularity of calamity and terrorism in Iraq has brought that home to the American people. A war in Iran would be harder, and given the screaming strain our military is now under, a draft would be inevitable.

And that, I think, is how you discredit this war: you're honest about its costs. Already, 60 percent of Americans think the Iran confrontation will end not through diplomacy, not through attack, but when Iran simply gets the bomb. They're making peace with the prospect. If you explain to the parents of America that the only way to stop a small Middle Eastern country from obtaining a low-yield nuclear weapon is to send their children -- not other people's children, but their children -- to go through a grinder far worse than Iraq, support, already soft, will bottom out. Americans accepted the invasion of Iraq because it seemed easy, it seemed cheap, it seemed clean. It was none of those things. Now they know. So just tell them the truth: compared to Iran, Iraq was a piece of cake.

--Ezra Klein

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