CONSERVATIVE CRACKUP WATCH….Ralph “Blood and Guts” Peters isn’t quite following in Fareed Zakaria’s footsteps and recommending immediate withdrawal from Iraq, but he’s close:
If Iraq’s leaders stop squabbling and lead, and if Iraq’s soldiers and police fight resolutely for their constitutional state, we should be willing to stay “as long as it takes.” But if they continue to wallow in ethnic and religious partisanship while doing as little as possible for their own country, we need to leave and let them face the consequences.
Give them one more year. And that’s it.
….Make no mistake: Were our nation directly threatened, our ground forces would surge to respond powerfully and effectively. But as far as Iraq goes, they’ve given their best. They’re willing to die for our country. But we should never ask them to give their lives to postpone a political embarrassment.
….Iraq is not yet lost, but it’s harder every day to be optimistic. It’s still too soon to give up ? we must have the fortitude to weather very dark days. But we also need the guts to recognize when it’s time to cut our losses. In Iraq, the verdict must come in 2007.
In the same way that Zakaria is representative of the center-right establishment, I think that Peters is representative of a different strain of conservatism that’s also soured on the war. These guys basically think the Iraqis haven’t shown much gratitude for the favor we did by invading them, and if that’s the way they feel then the hell with them. I’ve heard this more than once from distinctly non-elite conservative acquaintances.
So what does it mean? George Bush says he’s going to stay in Iraq even if Laura and Barney are the only ones left supporting him, and that may be exactly where he finds himself before long. Liberals of even the hawkish variety abandoned him long ago, and both the center-right and the isolationist right are now following right behind. When James Baker III makes it official with whatever he recommends after the election, it’s just going to be Laura, Barney, and Bill Kristol left baying at the moon, and not much of anyone else.