A better way forward

As I wrote the other day, it increasingly looks like whatever "way forward" the Administration offers in January, it will not be a better one.  Today we learn that Secretary Rice has dismissed talks with Syria and Iran, a remarkably modest step and one essential to any improvement in the economic and political prospects in the region. 

The American people are facing a difficult period.  They overwhelmingly believe our policies in the Middle East have failed.  They voted the Party of the Iraq War out of power.  A very credible independent study group recommends an urgent change of course, focusing on lessening our military presence in Iraq and opening up new diplomatic channels to restore stability to the region.  An emerging political leader of this Iraq War Party, John McCain, recommends more troops.  The country's military leaders reject that path, publically.  Reasonable people across the world urge some kind of regional peace process.  The Administration rejects it.  A US Senator goes to Syria to explore a new path forward, the Administration attacks him. The Administration talks about a "Shiite tilt" in Iraq, Saudi Arabia says a regional war may erupt if we proceed down that path....

Battered by the elections, the Administration is turning inward, and becoming more isolated from reality and the wishes of the American people.  Their management of the War has already cost America too many lives, too much money and too much loss of prestige.  Their management of the "way forward" process in recent weeks reinforces that they are lost, weak, unclear where to go, unwilling to listen to new ideas.  Their leadership of the country is no longer just wrongheaded, but is becoming dangerous to our national security interests.  As progressives, we have an extraordinary obligation to challenge a lost and wayward Administration, and to find not just a way forward in the Middle East, but a better way forward.  And it must include, as the ISG suggested, an aggressive diplomatic effort to restore stability to the region.