Peter Rodman thinks that President Bush’s aspiring successors should be hoping that Iraq can be moved further toward stability in the remaining 18 months of the Bush Administration. Here’s his conclusion:
Those running for president, especially, would be well advised, amid the excitement of the campaign, to reflect on what will be required of the winner. Potentially the most destabilizing new factor in the world in the coming period is the fear of American weakness. All the hyperventilation about American hubris and unilateralism is a tired cliche; it never had much validity anyway. The real problem is that the pressures pushing us to accept defeat in Iraq are already profoundly unnerving to allies in the Middle East, and elsewhere, who rely on the United States to help ensure their security in the face of continuing dangers. If we let ourselves be driven out of Iraq, what the world will seek most from the next president will not be some great demonstration of humility and self-abasement -- that is, to be the "un-Bush" -- but rather for reassurance that the United States is still strong, capable of acting decisively and committed to the security of its friends. Given our domestic debate, to provide this reassurance will be an uphill battle in the best of circumstances. It will be even more difficult if President Bush succumbs to all the pressures on him to do the wrong thing in Iraq.
President Bush still has the power to set the terms of the debate in 2008. He should use it wisely and to the utmost of his ability.