Leon Wieseltier on Iraq with some emphasis added:
We cannot quit on moral grounds, because we have an obligation to assist the secular democracy-builders in Iraq, the heroes in the wreckage, whose cause is not yet lost, and we have an obligation to protect the Kurds. And we cannot quit on strategic grounds, because of the gains to Iran and to the terrorist international. So what should we do? Briefly, anything and everything. An increase in troop deployments for the mastery of Baghdad, upon which a great deal depends (if order is not established, nothing good will be established); reform of the Iraqi military, or of what passes for the Iraqi military; redeployment to less provocative locations; a federal arrangement of the Iraqi state; an international conference (but about Iraq, not Palestine); an attempt to flip Syria to our side, which is not beyond the diplomatic imagination; anything and everything. If we leave, or if we stay the bleeding course, things will get even worse.
This is all a pony hunt as far as I’m concerned so on some level, whatever. That said, suppose Bush were to go pony hunting at a regional conference wherein Syria agrees to “flip . . . to our side” and various other actors agree to do ponyish things but they say that in order to sell it to their publics and in order to prove American bona fides they need us to, say, get the IDF out of Gaza. That’s off the table? Iraq is so important and leaving so bad that we should do anything — anything — to salvage some scrap of dignity their, but Israel is totally off the table for discussion in any respect. Total US backing for whatever Israel is just beyond all possible trading off? As I say, hypothetical pony hunt outcomes aren’t my top concern, but the general principle here seems obviously pernicious.