Iraq and the Catastrophic Failure of the U.S. Political System

This quote from Fred Kaplan’s Slate article has left me gobsmacked:

At the same time, nearly all politicians, including most Democrats, have come out against a total withdrawal and have recognized that we will have some military presence in Iraq for a long time to come.

Hold that thought, because I want to remind you of some polling data I discussed a couple of weeks ago:

From Strategic Vision, a Republican polling firm:

4. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Yes 51%
No 39%
Undecided 10%

Not beginning a withdrawal in six months if Iraq becomes more stable, a brigade of magical unicorns shows up, and so forth. Iowa Republicans want us out in six months.

If we assume that higher percentages of independents and Democrats (particularly Democrats) would agree with that statement–especially if by “out”, one means at most a couple thousand troops not in harm’s way–the dissonance between the governing elites along with their hangers-on (whether we call them the Very Serious People, the Mandarin Class, or the Potomac Punditocracy) and an overwhelming majority of the American public is staggering.
Think of it this way: other than a handful of congressmen and Sen. Bernie Sanders, there are no politicians who are in basic agreement with a large majority of the public. Even if you personally think the majority is wrong, the idea that the public has virtually no political outlets should be frightening. And if Kaplan is correct, and the Very Serious People aren’t considering near-complete withdraw over the next six months at all, there is a gaping chasm between those who govern and the governed.
More troubling than the current dysfunction (and the consequences of that dysfunction are horrific–lots of dead people) is what this gap can ultimately lead to: tyranny in one form or another. While El Jefe Maximo and his minions, through their ‘theory’ of the unitary executive, have done considerable damage to civil liberties in this country, for me, the absence of any political avenues for the majority of the American public to express their views is far more frightening. Historically, this has been one of the ways authoritarian governments have come to power: by filling a political void.
If you think I’m overstating the case, one can already see signs of political desperation. Democratic voters are projecting views about Iraq onto candidates that are wildly out-of-synch with what the candidates actually support. That is not a sign of stupidity, but desperation.
This is one problem I do not have a clue about how to fix.
Related post: Tristero gives us a blow-by-blow description of just how out-of-touch the Mandarin class truly is.

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7 Responses to Iraq and the Catastrophic Failure of the U.S. Political System

  1. Novathecat says:

    Maybe it’s because most folks outside the beltway may be against the war, but they are more against our country losing a war and slinking off with our tails between our legs like Vietnam.

  2. Rob Jase says:

    Thanks to corporate/uppermost-2%-of-the-population ownership of both the major political parties in the US it is no longer possible to repair the political system of the country.
    The Mandarin class will not allow it.
    And the sheeple that make up most of the population like it that way. Saves them the energy that using their cognitive functions would cost.

  3. bigTom says:

    What nova said. They know that after a withdrawal, all the bad things that happen afterwards will be blamed on those who made the withdrawl decision. So we need some sort of quarantee from the citizens to the political class “Do as we want, and we won’t hold you responsible”.

  4. david says:

    A total withdrawal is a concept that doesn’t make any realistic sense. The public at large (represented by polls like the one you cite) doesn’t care about that fact, but policymakers have to. In order for the military to completely pull out, someone has to plan it, and in looking at planning it, most people have realized that pulling out immediately and completely is unwise if not impossible.
    I see no problem with those facts, that just the way it is.

  5. I always love the appeals to the unnamed though proverbial “most people”, they really do simplify things.
    Everyone knows that the situation in Iraq is going to be bad when we leave. It’s bad now, and it’s going to be bad whether we withdraw in six months or ten years. And yes, we are eventually going to have to leave. The political situation there is simply intractable and will eventually force us out, persistently dumping money down the rat-hole in futile efforts to save face won’t change that.
    The one good thing we can do is take home the lesson that American military power is not omnipotent and haphazard Wilsonian interventionism is a bad policy. It could save us from a lot of these quagmires in the future.

  6. PlanetaryGear says:

    scarriest thing is that it isn’t as bad as you think. Bush is going to pull this rabbit out of his… umm.. hat between now and the election and the republicans are going to sweep because they stuck with it and they won. Yes, we are going to win, and not in ludicrously long term numbers either. Check out the news that is slowly beginning to trickle through the claptrap in even the Main Steam Media. And when they deliver a demonstrably stable and mostly peaceful Iraqi government that doesn’t need our troops anymore to maintain order they are going to play it for every cookie in the jar against those who wanted to quit and give it back to the terrorists.
    So you better start looking into some OTHER issues now so that this isn’t the only one we let the guys in DC talk about. Cause otherwise this will be the only issue that decides the next election and if thats the case then the republicans may just take the presidency again as well as the majority in the senate.
    So, it’s both better and worse than you think 😉 Personally i’m trying to prepare myself for a constant barrage of happy Iraqi people shots on TV juxtaposed with video footage of democrats calling for an early pull out. Get ready for it, it’s going to be a spectacular election.

  7. Mr. Gunn says:

    The invasion of Iran is waiting for 2008. The next candidate, the one who has assured the Christian and Jewish power brokers that the fight against Islam will continue under their leadership, will illustrate what is meant by Iraq is “just a comma”.

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