I’m with Ilan Goldenberg on the political problems caused by unduly timid Iraq plans:
Barry Posen recently noted, the Center for New American Security proposal for Iraq offers no strategic choice to the American public. Democratic candidates that flirt with the vague ideas proposed by Kahl are risking making the same mistakes made in 2002 and 2004 on national security — offering hair splitting difference on policy but no real strategic choice or contrast to Republicans. With the American public’s opposition to the Iraq war at an all-time high, the idea of offering a narrow plan not dissimilar to the policy already being pursued by the Bush administration — one which Kahl admits does not have a high probability of success — is politically tone deaf.
With Bush not personally on the ballot, a debate over who would be the best person to manage a fundamentally similar strategy doesn’t necessarily shake out in the Democrats’ favor. Indeed, I think Rudy Giuliani, Mitt Romney, or John McCain could all mount very successful arguments on that score. A debate about strategy, however, is likely to favor the party arguing for a bigger change from the failed policies of the past.