Bring the boys (and girls) home

The snow had buried Stuyvesant.
The subways drummed the vaults. I heard
the El’s green girders charge on Third,
Manhattan’s truss of adamant,
that groaned in ermine, slummed on want. …
Cyclonic zero of the word,
God of our armies, who interred
Cold Harbor’s blue immortals, Grant!
Horseman, your sword is in the groove!
Ice, ice. Our wheels no longer move.
Look, the fixed stars, all just alike
as lack-land atoms, split apart,
and the Republic summons Ike,
the mausoleum in her heart.

In 1952, the Republican Party, running on the “only a war hero can beat Adlai Stevenson” theory, put up the then popular president of the university I would attend three decades later, and the former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, the affable Dwight David Eisenhower (and you know… I like Ike, even if Robert Lowell did not, but like the iconic Ronald Reagan of later years, I only wish he’d selected someone else as the vice president and heir apparent.)
Anyway, Ike’s principal campaign theme of 1952 was “I’ll bring the boys home”, then from Korea. It would have been nice if John Kerry had modeled himself after the affable Ike, instead of the charismatic Kennedy… if Kerry, for example, had been principled enough to say “I like the war and the blood and guts as much as the next guy… but the torture… that’s just wrong. And as my good buddy John McCain will tell you, torture is bad. And encouraging other nations to torture our people when captured… unacceptable… disgusting…”
And John Kerry would now be President.
Well, he didn’t do that. And he’s not. So here we are.
Contrary to the assertions of some (including our own Unseen Editor), I do not have ill-wishes for the Iraqi people, nor do I wish for the failure of “the election”. I submit simply that reading the work of people who seem to know what the hell is happening there, such as dog run member Juan Cole and Iraqi bloggers, such as Raed in the Middle, does not give one cause for optimism in this department.
An Iraqi George Washington (who won’t be named Allawi or Chalabi) might emerge, and extend sufficient enfranchisement to Sunnis so as to stave off disaster. But that’s not how you bet.
The Iraqis, in my view, are due for a civil war. We can either be in the middle of it, or not. Frankly, our national security has already been compromised with this adventure (Iran and North Korea have taken advantage of this, and Dr. Khan’s nuclear medicine show may well have proliferated nukes to God knows where while we’re tied up in Mesopotamia.) We are now battling for the prestige of our rulers; I repeat: our national security has already been compromised, and we will not improve it by staying, nor worsen it very much by leaving, at this point. We have skewed the vote toward Shiites favoring theocracy by excluding the more secular minded Sunnis. Bad things are going to happen, IMHO.
We can cut our losses, and declare that “our work here is done”, even with a flawed election. I suggest we bring the boys (and girls) home. Ted Kennedy is right on that. Disagree all you want. The war has had some successes (Saddam is out, Uday and Qusay or dead), and its share of failures. At an incredible financial and human cost. Was it worth it? Well, y’all know my thoughts.
Time will bear somebody out. I suspect it will be me. And if I’m wrong, well, pleasant surprises are the best kind.