Still About the War

Chuck Schumer’s shown some enormous political skills as DSCC chair in the 2005–2006 period, but this is terrible. “I think Iraq will not be as strong an issue in the 2008 elections,” he said, “I think the surge will fail and the president will have no choice but to begin removing troops.” This is wishful thinking twice over. Wishful on the merits that the Iraq War is somehow going to wrap itself up nicely. And wishful on the politics as well wishful that Democrats will have the chance to go back to talking about what they’re all comfortable talking about — health care, small children — rather than what the country most wants to hear about. But as Atrios says this is “Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.”

“And Iran too,” remarks Kevin Drum commenting on the same article, “be prepared.”

Quite so. 9/11 obviously didn’t “change everything” but it equally obviously did change politics in this country enormously. It took us out of the 1990s dynamic where voters didn’t really care about world affairs and returned us to the dynamic that prevailed throughout the bulk of the 20th century where one foreign policy issue or another tended to play a very prominent role in campaigns. There’s no particular reason to think this will stop any time soon, but it’s certainly not going to stop while two shooting wars are happening and the legendarily stubborn George W. Bush is in the White House. America’s policies vis-a-vis the Middle East and the broader Muslim world are, whether one likes it or not, going to be absolutely central in 2008.