Roger L. Simon

Everyone's New York Minute

Tom Friedman accuses the Bush national security team of “criminal incompetence” in his NYT oped this morning. The article is approvingly cited by Andrew Sullivan who seems particularly eager these days to find backing for his contention that things were badly mismanaged in Iraq. Maybe these men are right. I don’t know. But I wonder how they are so sure.

Friedman marshals in his support senior Iraq envoys Jay Garner and Paul Bremer who have recently criticized the occupation. But Garner was fired after a sojourn of only weeks – so personal pique must be taken into consideration – and Bremer says he was misquoted. Of course that still doesn’t mean that the occupation has been well handled, or even remotely so. But it doesn’t mean it wasn’t. Nor do the conflicting comments of military experts that we hear nightly on television, their views usually varying with the politics of the cable channels on which they appear.

What I think is going on here is a need to have closure. People’s anxieties and their ideologies are at play more than a knowledge of the situation that can barely be considered accurate in the short run, let alone historically. We all – journalists, bloggers, etc. – must have opinions so we opine. I could make arguments on both sides of the major questions here – more troops, fewer troops, more US action in Falluja, less, etc. – but I would simply be posturing because I don’t know. What I do know is this – this war has only been going on eighteen months, slghtly longer if you include Aghanistan. We are probably going to be in it for the rest of our lives. The more committed we are to it, the shorter it will be. I don’t trust Kerry’s committment. That’s the story for me.

UPDATE: Amplification here.