The big story this news cycle is the White House's rejection of the Democrats' "plan" for a phased withdrawal from Iraq. To be clear, this is not really a plan, but the gist of comments from the Sunday morning news shows.
But even that may be too much of a plan for where we stand today.
Say, anybody out there have a plan for solving our Iraq problem? Anybody think that if we just do X, everything will simply fall into order and we'll march out to smiles and waves from our new Iraqi allies?
I don't have a plan and I don't believe in any magic X. My advice to Democrats is simple: Don't trust any simple solutions. This is why it never bothered me that Democrats didn't offer any detailed plans for fixing Iraq in either 2004 or 2006: Solving complex international problems by centralized political planning is seldom a good idea.
Original White House intentions aside, it is safe to say that we are in the mess we face today because America's political leadership didn't listen to the voices of wise counsel within its professional ranks. Jay Garner was replaced by the disastrous Paul Bremer. Dissent among senior officers was squelched to such an extent that otherwise loyal generals found themselves in revolt against the stubbornly wrongheaded edicts of Donald Rumsfeld. Democratic critiques from Capitol Hill were not heard at all.
Solving Iraq will take more than grand political plans and arbitrary deadlines. The best thing the Democrats can do right now is to make sure that the White House opens its ears to the voices it has long ignored. Bring in the mavericks and heretics from Spookworld, the State Department, the armed forces and both parties. Empower the smart people who have been ignored for the past four years. Try diplomacy and reach out to other nations as well. Remember that we have an executive branch for a reason.
A general direction change is fine, but I hope the Democratic plan for Iraq goes something like this: Rescue America's smart professionals from the political wilderness to which they have been consigned, and use what clout you have to make sure they get a chance to help us steer our way out of this tricky passage.