CUTTING AND RUNNING….Tapped points us to yet another (!) blog at The New Republic, Spencer Ackerman’s Iraq’d. To start us off, Spencer summarizes the lament of the pro-war liberal who wonders what happened to (a) Iraq’s WMD, (b) Iraq’s terrorism connections, and (c) Iraq’s human rights problems:

Well, it turns out that Saddam didn’t have much in the way of WMD, or even ongoing WMD programs. And it also appears that his ties to Al Qaeda were tenuous at best. So all that’s left for the war rationale is the human-rights-and-democracy argument, which for liberals is intuitively appealing (or should be). But then along comes the Bush administration’s November 15 Agreement to relinquish sovereignty by June 30, which tells the Iraqis that, owing to election-year considerations, the United States can’t be bothered right now to midwife a democracy. You might say you’ve been Iraq’d.

He’s right. The terrorism connections were tenuous from the beginning, the WMD connection is now known to be bogus, and the headlong retreat from Baghdad makes it all too clear that the Bushies never took democracy promotion seriously either. As Tacitus says today, responding to news that we are turning over Baghdad to Iraqi forces:

Since there’s no real evidence that our troop withdrawal is occuring in any context of tactical or strategic victory (to say nothing of a pause, and to say nothing of adequate Iraqi police levels to step into the breach), one is left to conclude that this is some sort of a pilot program — the wave of the future, as it were, and a preview of the sovereignty handover in four months. Simply drive away.

Surely it has become too obvious for even conservatives to deny that Bush’s strategy is now driven by election-year panic? No matter what it takes, we must turn over control to the Iraqis ? any Iraqis ? by June 30. The administration appears to be willing to cut nearly any deal at this point as long as the June 30 date stays in place.

So once again I have a question not for pro-war liberals, but for pro-war conservatives: how much more of this can you take before you finally conclude that you’ve been duped? Even without WMD or serious terrorist connections, it’s been possible to think that at least Bush believed in draining the swamp, in democracy promotion, and in showing rogue regimes that American power is to be feared. But what happens when he cuts and runs and demonstrates that he never really believed in any of that stuff either?

Which is worse, a Democrat who wouldn’t have gone to war in the first place or a Republican who went to war so deceitfully and so cynically that he’s actually damaged the prospect of future use of force? Because by all appearances that’s what George Bush has done.

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