A report on diminishing expectations for Iraq has bloggers considering the future of the country. They also discuss the Israeli disengagement from Gaza and Christopher Walken's rumored presidential candidacy.
The tyranny of high expectations:"The Bush administration is significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq," says the Washington Post. "The ferocious debate over a new constitution has particularly driven home the gap between the original U.S. goals and the realities after almost 28 months," most significantly, the Post reports, on the role of Islam in the future Iraqi state.
"No WMDs, no al Quaeda link, no Iraq oil boom, and now, insult to injury, no democracy," writes Jerry Bowles at liberal Best of the Blogs. "A secular country with relative freedom for women is about to become an Islamic Republic and breeding ground for future terrorists."
"Bush was better than Kerry on so many issues I care about (abortion, taxes, economic policy, terror, etc.) that I have no regrets voting for him (twice)," swearsStephen Bainbridge, a corporate law professor. "But I've lost confidence in his handling of the Iraq mess." Australian management consultant Joanne Jacobs notes that self-imposed deadlines, as much as frustrated expectations, have necessitated the apparent climbdown.
For many liberals, the changing administration perspective offers a delicious irony, a telling bookend to perceived imperial hubris embodied in a statement by an anonymous senior official to journalist Ron Suskind in 2002. Critical liberals, he said then, "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality. That's not the way the world really works anymore. We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality." Washington Monthly liberal Political Animal Kevin Drum notes the contrast. Social scientist Mark A.R. Kleiman sees the intervening years as something of a comeuppance. "The problem with despising 'reality' and those who pay attention to it is that sometimes reality bites back," he snipes.
Pointing out that America was founded on Christian principles and calling Christianity a "cornerstone of our public policy," an optimistic James Joyner of Outside the Beltway writes, "It would be inconceivable, really, that an Iraq where people were free to vote their preferences into law would not emerge with Islam as at least a nominal part of the constitution and as part of the fabric of governance." Moreover, he adds, "[the term] 'Islamic republic' is not synonymous with 'theocracy.' There is no indication in this report or any other that I've seen that Iraq will be ruled by the mullahs at the end of the day."
Pulling out: Israeli settlers and military began withdrawing from Gaza and parts of the West Bank today, in the first step of a disengagement plan designed by Ariel Sharon to increase security and pressure a quid pro quo Palestinian response.
Many observers cheer the alignment of the Israeli state with its more moderate community. "This is a struggle between the state of Israel and a few thousand religious extremists," says the American Prospect's Mark Leon Goldberg, at TAPPED. "Thankfully, Israeli public opinion has supported withdrawal for a long time now; the public is willing to trade messianic dreams held by a few thousand for peace and security in the here and now." At the National Review Online's group blog The Corner, John Podhoretz sees cause for hope in the behavior of the settlers: "897 families have agreed to leave voluntarily, meaning that the nearly 600 that are confronting the government constitute a distinct minority of the Gaza settlers," he calculates. "None of them wanted to leave, but most are leaving without a fight. We can only hope their number grows."
Others are looking past the withdrawal and assessing the outlook for a settler-free Gaza. "In a few weeks we'll know if Abbas will survive or Hamas will emerge," says GZLives at the Drudge Retort. California blogger Dan Saper calls the withdrawal a heartening but inconclusive development.
"As unpleasant as it is to watch messianic Jews fight their own state to retain control of a territory that is not theirs, one unexamined benefit may come of the Gaza and West Bank 'pull-outs,' " writesSnarksmith New Yorker Michael Weiss. "One hopes that at least some of the more cynical Palestinians will realize that self-criticism isn't entirely outcast from the 'holy land.' "
Read more about the Gaza withdrawal.
Walken in 2008: Is Christopher Walken really running for president? That it smells like an Internet hoax hasn't stopped blogger speculation.
"Alright, cue the cowbell jokes. And don't tell me you aren't at least a little interested in this idea," saysKay Do, a film and video producer. "I already programmed my Tivo to record the first debate."
An America led by Walken, writes Betsy Leeuwner at Lunar World, "would be the scariest country imaginable. This guy weirds me out." Others disagree. "Less scary than Cheney," saysLex, an ironist and Internet developer in the United Kingdom.