THE TRAGIC INELUCTABILITY OF BUSH'S WAR. People who have seen my writings about Ralph Nader will not be surprised that I tend to be skeptical of "heighten the contradictions" arguments. As such, I'm afraid that on the merits I have to side with Sam over Spencer or Rob on this one. If Congressional Democrats could end the war, then I think they should indisputably do so. This isn't because I think that the narrative Spencer outlines won't play out; it very well might. The problem is, the blame-the-war's-opponents narrative will be trotted out and may hold no matter what the Democrats do. If the stylings of Glenn Reynolds have taught us nothing else -- and they certainly haven't -- it's that precisely because they're unfalsifiable tautologies "stab-in-the-back" arguments can be deployed irrespective of the evidence on the ground or what the Democrats do. (After all, it's not as if the narrative was a plausible explanation of Vietnam either.) There's simply no question that the Republican Party and its lickspittles will blame everyone but the people responsible for conceiving and executing it for the failure of the Iraq war, and whether the narrative will have political force is dependent on factors (press coverage, future election results, etc.) that are both unforeseeable and not fully within the Democrats' control. I don't think it's defensible to continue the senseless destruction of lives and waste of resources in Iraq for political benefits that may or may not materialize.

The good news for blogger comity, but the extremely bad news for Iraq and the United States, is that it's all moot. This war will continue throughout Bush's tenure no matter what. The odds that there will be the votes in Congress to de-fund the war with troops in the field are about the same that Tom Coburn will introduce a constitutional amendment mandating a French health care system with unregulated state-funded abortions. In modern politics, foreign policy rests mostly in the executive branch. Since there's nothing the Democrats can plausibly do to end the war, political considerations are relevant, and while strategy isn't my department making de-funding the centerpiece of Democratic policy probably isn't politically wise.

--Scott Lemieux

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