I applaud the espoused sentiment behind this column by John Edwards in today’s Washington Post. He writes:
It was a mistake to vote for this war in 2002. I take responsibility for that mistake. It has been hard to say these words because those who didn’t make a mistake — the men and women of our armed forces and their families — have performed heroically and paid a dear price.
I think this is the right direction to go with the rhetoric — focusing on “We made a mistake, how can we recover from it?” rather than “Who tricked us into this?” It’s also a good alternative to the administration’s stance, which appears to be, “There was no mistake and everything’s dandy. Quick — look over there.”
Edwards proposes a three-fold plan that includes reducing our military presence in Iraq, implementing a “more effective training program for Iraqi forces,” and pursuing “a serious diplomatic process that brings the world into this effort.” I think these are good ideas — although I don’t know about reducing our military presence before replacing troops with competent Iraqi forces — but can they actually be implemented? I mean, they sound like the same ideas that have been there all along, which makes me think either the administration hasn’t even tried, or implementation is impossible. Or, I suppose, that the current leadership isn’t competent but someone else could do it.
It seems to me that the broad ideas are covered — although, as I mentioned, it is good to hear a Dem accepting responsibility for a mistake and at least saying that he wants to move on to focus on a solution — but specifics are, as always, lacking. What does a more effective training program look like? How can we convince other countries to get involved?
I certainly don’t have any ideas, and it’s probably naive of me to ask a politician to offer any real solutions, but all of this — the blame game, the acceptance of responsibility, the statement of broad objectives without steps for how to achieve them — still won’t help.