Doing it right
Nick Confessore links to Dan Drezner who talks about an appearance by Ken Pollack on CNN. The summary from all this linking is that, regardless of whether you thought it was wise to go into Iraq or not the simple truth is that we are there and that the rest of the world is watching to see what we will do next. Will we really offer an alternative to the autocratic systems of a Hussein and the Islamic republics of Iran? Or will we blow it and leave an even greater mess than what we had before.
There has been reasonable criticism that the Democrats, despite their attacks on the whole Bush program, haven't really offered much in the way of an alternative. As said above, the option of not getting involved is no longer an option and the option of simply pulling out (ala Kucinich) would just make a bad situation worse. So, assuming a Democrat does get into office in 2005, how would he address this problem?
Here's a suggestion: do what Bush promised he was trying to do but do it right.
There's a lot of very valid arguments to be made against the whole PNAC, reverse domino-theory doctrine, not the least of which is that you can't impose Democracy at the point of a gun. But those arguments are now purely academic. Bush has committed us to a grand experiment and we no longer have a choice about whether to get involved. We are in the thick of it.
So, if we are going to do it, let's do it right. It is obvious from the results we have seen so far that Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Wolfowitz are incompetent when it comes to implement their grand ideas.
The Democrats need to avoid getting into an argument about the wisdom of the whole endeavor (other than to use it as a way of indicating that these guys aren't as bright as they make themselves out to be) and instead need to focus on the essential characteristic of this administration in pretty much everything they do: their manifest incompetence. The Democrats have to convince the American people that they are more competent to see this grand experiment through to a successful conclusion.
How do they do this? Perhaps we could start by comparing the records of Democrats and Republicans on the matter of nation building. I don't know my history well enough to argue this thoroughly, but my impression is that Democrats have a much better record of success on this than Republicans. What's more, the Democrats actually understand the value of nation building whereas the Republicans have almost consistently scoffed at the idea (cue Bush's comments from the 2000 where he was dismissive of the whole idea).
Bush has gotten us into a nation building exercise. Why should we trust it to a guy who has been so against the whole idea in the past?