On the day the Bush Administration renewed its commitment to preemptive war--and conveniently launched the largest air strikes in Iraq since March 2003--a conference of security experts assembled at the Center for America Progress to examine just how that preemptive test case is going.
Not so hot. And conditions on the ground threaten to move from bad to worse.
"Where are we?" asked Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski, former National Security Advisor under Jimmy Carter and the day's keynote speaker. "We are in a mess," he said, echoing comments he told me recently.
"American legitimacy has been undermined...American morality has been stained...American credibility has been shattered."
Where are we headed?
The US is caught in two wars in Iraq: insurgents against occupiers and Sunnis against Shiites.
"The US umbrella, designed to stifle them, but so porous it perpetuates them, keep these wars alive."
What should we do?
The Bush Administration "is not capable to make a cold judgement or look at alternatives because of their stake in past misjudgments: in some cases, lies, in some cases, crimes."
According to Brzezinski, the US should ask Iraqi leaders to ask us to leave. And we should set a date for our departure, roughly by the end of this year.
The Democrats, through their silence and evasiveness, have made themselves largely irrelevant from this debate. Even though dissatisfaction with the war is causing President Bush's approval ratings to plummet, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds. Even though "a congressional candidate favoring withdrawal of all US troops within a year would gain favor by 50%-35 percent, while one who advocates staying 'as long as necessary' would lose favor by 43%-39 percent," the WSJ writes.
How bad do the numbers have to get before the Democratic Party, as a whole, takes a clear stand on the war, or a prominent Republican utters Senator George Aiken's famous words: "The best policy is to declare victory and get out."