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On the Newsstand: Iraq Could Poison American Politics For a Generation

The biggest challenge facing the next president is not leaving Iraq, but keeping America in one piece on the way out. A recent issue of The Atlantic explains that Iraq is the most partisan US war in history. Unlike Vietnam, which divided Americans within the parties, the differences between Republicans and Democrats reached as high as 60 percentage points.

The article warns that a party-line retreat will tear the country apart. Many Republicans think Democrats are intentionally undermining the war effort to improve their political prospects. This understanding could lead to the narrative of betrayal — the "we never really lost" or "some of us defeated the rest" narrative.

So how do we protect the soul of the country? To find out,

. The article offers a few scenarios — everyone is fed up and a withdrawal is uncontroversial; the Republicans win the White House, the Democrats win Congress and the parties work together. But, if the Democrats win control of both branches, they must make a decision: withdraw immediately on party-line Congressional votes, or more slowly at a pace that commands support among Republicans.

A middle-ground plan is necessary. It could guarantee a reduction in troops each year, but allow for a flexible pace of withdrawal that would be faster than Bush preferred, but slower than the liberal base demands. If the Democrats rush to exit against a unified, yet powerless, Republican party, they will be blamed for whatever disasters followed in Iraq, or the entire Middle East. Check out the original article, which offers such wise advice.

Join The Conversation
d9rlcb d9rlcb 9 years
this is a very interesting article..much enjoyed.thanks
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Brick - I have both texts, and agree with you completely. I was merely explaining to our friend above my original comment why the study in the post may have been concluded the way it was. I think what you've stated is very clear, especially in contemporary politics.
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
BrickSykes: I can't speak about the book you mention, since I haven't read it, but many of the points you bring up ring true to me. Thanks for giving us the book recommendation--I'll be sure to check that out.
BrickSykes BrickSykes 9 years
Mina, Mostly a lot of crap, friend. The American Public of Both Parties were in an enforced state of mass confusion. Nobody on the street knew why we were Really there, so left it to the Media and their public representatives to explain it and they both failed. America has been in the empire building process in earnest since WWII like every other world power. Read "Thy Will Be Done" by Gerard Colby and Charlotte Dennet. This book explains in detail how our 'drive' to spread Democracy and Capitalism has been simply a ruse. Nearly all our efforts, mostly in the Third World, have been directed at securing energy and other natural resources in these foreign lands, and always at their expense. That is the main reason most of the world "out there" hates us. We're living in a massive cover up of activities the US Government has done generally in support of overseas business interests. Yes, I am an American, I love America, I'm a veteran, and I will fight for America till my last breath, but we have done some awful things TO the world, and it looks like we're beginning to pay for them. Ciao
minaminamina minaminamina 9 years
Janneth, the Dems throughout the period of Vietnam completely changed hands - in the beginning, they wanted in. In the end, they wanted out. And "Nixonite" is not a party - the Republicans were split down the middle on Vietnam, and you're right - those who supported Nixon agreed with him, but the rest of the Republicans were hellbent on getting out of there. Furthermore, a lot of Dems during 'Nam were very anti-troop, which is something we don't see a lot of now, and it was because of the high instances of fragging that was going on in Nam... some Dems saw the troops as having been subversed by commies or some such nonsense, so they wanted out of Vietnam because they thought the troops had too much access to socialist teachings.
janneth janneth 9 years
Viet-Naaaaaam was so divisive. I don't think the Iraq war has gotten there yet. Hold on, was not the Civil War divisive, the most divisive? But back to Vietnam, that was horrible. It split parents and children. And it definitely went along party lines. Dems wanted out. And Nixonites did not.
Arthur Arthur 9 years
I am looking forward to the debates after the conventions to hear how the candidates plan to deal with just this very issue. Should be interesting. I haven't read the article yet, but I think that Rauch is hyperventilating a little here (as usual ;)).
Jude-C Jude-C 9 years
I can't speak for previous wars, having not lived through them, but I think in the case of this Iraq war, one of the big problems is that support of it/opposition of it became a major party identification issue. Each party had its particular line on the war, and politicians within the parties who went against their party's line were shot down by their own parties rather than having their dissent listened to.
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