A different course is needed in Iraq

May 28, 2004

Dear Editor:

One of my favorite quotes is "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). I was reminded of this in reading about the president's address on the Iraq war and in contemplating all the possible ways we could, but are not, respond to the situation in this volatile country. All the president asks us to do is to "stay the course," when it is clear to even the most casual observer that the present course is not working to achieve our goals. A different course is needed. We must change our approach, not necessarily our objectives, but demonstrate a much-needed mental flexibility in finding a new path forward. Unfortunately, this administration does not seem capable of such new and deep rethinking.

Several clear and direct alternatives have been proposed by various experts, both in the United States and abroad.

One is to set the date for the U.S. pullout (a possibility is the end of 2004) and then demonstrate that we really mean to leave.


Another is to create, with the help of the United Nations, a true Iraqi-led government with real sovereignty (control over its own laws, police, industries, and military) unlike the current plan for turnover in June.

Another might be to choose an Iraqi leader with enough domestic credibility (as opposed to the neoconservative darling, Ahmed Chalabi, who has no real Iraqi support base) and cede authority to that person.

There are many alternatives available, but no real debate is possible in the corridors of power of Washington while the Bushies insist on "staying the course." One of the few voices of integrity in the administration, Secretary of State Colin Powell, now admits he was misled on Iraq information before the war and plans to leave the administration after the election. We must be able to rethink our policy, to even change our minds (God forbid) when new information and new situations demand. We must ask no less of our national leadership. A foolish consistency at this time risks plunging Iraq into chaos, chaining our brave soldiers to a hopeless cause of "promoting stability," and inviting every terrorist and terrorist want-to-be to take their best shots at America and Americans around the globe.

Dan Nolet


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