I strongly recommend Brian Katulis's article from yesterday. As he indicates, we are in a key moment for progressives on national security right now. Given the momentous and comprehensive failure of conservative ideology in the Middle East, progressives have an opportunity to redraw the boundaries of the national security debate in the U.S., and it's imperative that we recognize and make the most of it. Katulis offers some very smart suggestions on how to begin to do that.
I think a big test for progressives is how we continue to deal with the myth of the surge. It's a tough one: people like hearing good news better than bad news, and tend to be more forgiving of sunny BSers than they are of hard truth-tellers. We're also confronted with an administration and a deep-pocketed neoconservative faction whose reputations are tied to Iraq, and who have proven time after time that they have no compunction about hiding behind the troops in order to advance astonishingly dishonest claims about the war's progress, or about mau-mauing the press into accepting those claims. But make no mistake: What is being sold as the surge's success is in reality simply the result of a reversal in policy toward empowering Iraqi warlords and militias and entrenching the forced segregation and fragmentation of the country toward achieving a short-term drop in violence while preparing the ground for future conflicts. Promoting this as "success" is as cynical and mendacious as anything this administration and its enablers have done.
Michael Massing has a devastating article collecting the accounts of many Iraqis' experiences under the American occupation, and how this has discredited America in their eyes for at least a generation. This, as well as the rise of Iran, the vindication of Osama bin Laden's claims about Western intentions, the proliferation of new, cheaper, and deadlier guerrilla tactics, the strengthening of anti-Americanism throughout the region, and not any "Anbar miracle," is George W. Bush's true legacy in Iraq. Any suggestion of where to go from here should begin with that.