A CHANGE OF MIND?….OR JUST A CLARIFICATION?….Hmmm, Josh Marshall says he hasn’t really changed his mind about war with Iraq. But then he says:

But at a certain point it simply becomes clear that the damage the administration has done outweighs the gains we might possibly amass by invading Iraq and toppling this regime.

We are at that point.

And what to do now?

I think the answer is that we have to wait. I feel confident that an able foreign policy mind could come up with a tack that would allow us to secure our vital objectives and yet work our way out of the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. I’m not sure what that grand gesture is. And absent such a grand gesture I think we have to resort to a policy of coercive inspections, start giving the inspectors quality intelligence data (not garbage) and begin whittling down the Iraqis WMD capability one step at a time.

Well, that sounds like he’s changed his mind to me. It also sounds remarkably close to my own view.

Basically, Josh and I both think that an invasion would be a good idea ? and still do ? but not at the cost of permanent damage to an international security system that, if anything, is even more important in an age of terrorism than it was before. So ease down the rhetoric, reduce the troop levels, keep the inspection pressure as high as possible, and wait for another opportunity. This is far from ideal, since Saddam does pose a genuine threat, but, truthfully, the near-term danger is not that great and I think we can live with it.

In fact, who knows? Maybe we could strike a deal: agree to pull back from an invasion in return for an agreement with our UN antagonists on how to deal with North Korea and nuclear wannabe Iran. If we could do that, it might be a win for all sides. It’s worth a thought.