Kevin Drum remarks on the public’s growing indifference to the question of how things are going in Iraq. Polls show an uptick in the number of people who think the war is going well, but CNN’s polling indicates that more people than ever — 68 percent — say they oppose the war in Iraq.
I think this makes a lot of sense. It all comes down to what you think of the overall strategy. If you think, as I do, that the war is serving no strategic purpose except, perhaps, to present a continuing risk of a flare-up with Iran while antagonizing Arab public opinion then the war “going well” is, just like the war “going poorly,” just another reason to leave. On the other hand, if you think that the war serves the vital strategic importance of projecting American power into the region and keeping other antagonists like Syria and Iran at bay, then the war going poorly would be a reason to redouble our efforts, but the war going well would also be a reason to redouble our efforts.
Reality on the ground does matter at some level, of course, but in a fundamental sense the question is still about strategy not about the exact state of play in such-and-such neighborhood in Baghdad. The original strategic purpose of the war was to eliminate an advanced nuclear weapons program that didn’t exist. Today, the purpose is … what? Mainly, it seems, to allow people who staked their reputations to this venture to avoid admitting that they made a horrible mistake.