Operation Iraqi Quagmire http://www.futureofthebook.org/iraq Just another WordPress weblog Thu, 11 Jan 2007 07:17:42 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 A Note from Lewis Lapham http://www.futureofthebook.org/iraq/hello-world/ http://www.futureofthebook.org/iraq/hello-world/#comments Wed, 10 Jan 2007 21:58:22 +0000 admin Now that the American military and diplomatic triumph in Iraq has been officially listed as missing in action, where do we begin to look for it–in the White House Situation Room or in a desert somewhere west of Samara, on the old caravan road to Damascus or maybe in a set of power points that a staff sergeant in Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s office neglected to enter on the Pentagon computer screen plotting the map coordinates of operation Iraqi Freedom?

Is our victory to be won by formulating an exit strategy or by mounting a rescue mission? If a flight plan, when do we call in the helicopters? If an advance like Patton’s to Bastogne, where do we send the imperial elephants? Is it conceivable that what is presumed lost might yet be found, or do we content ourselves with the learning of an expensive lesson?

Lacking answers to any of the above questions, what we have in hand is a bluster of best guesses, few of them reliable and many of them delusional. The Iraq Study Group last December published a report notable for its ambivalence; on January 10th President George W. Bush offered a work of political pulp fiction. Because neither authority can be regarded as trustworthy, we can look forward over the next few months to a debate in Congress dependent for its wisdoms upon the rounding up of a parade of generals, a faculty of history professors, a host of intelligence specialists, think-tank operatives, deputy assistant secretaries of state–i.e. the same crowd of Washington experts responsible for setting the policy and planning the logistics of Operation Iraqi Quagmire.

Lapham’s Quarterly in association with The Institute for the Future of the Book means to do better. Approaching individuals outside the circle of self-serving military and industrial opinion, we’ve invited them to annotate the ISG report as well as the President’s January speech to the nation. At liberty to find “the way forward” in or out of Iraq, back to the future or across the Potomac and into the trees, they have elaborated both texts with a series of further remarks (revisions, clarifications, corrections, translations into plain English) that add to the sum of a discussion a good deal more instructive than the one available on CNN. The floor is now open to any other interested bystanders who believe that a democracy draws its strength not from its armies or its fleets but from the asking of as many questions as its citizens can put to the representatives of their own stupidity and fear.

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