Failure is a tough sell. Odom admits that, but he does not fully understand the implications. The Democrats in Congress are not especially stupid, but they are necessarily anxious about withdrawal, because they are sensibly fearful of being blamed by the Republicans for “losing Iraq”.
The worst kinds of Republicans control almost the whole news Media. The punditocrisy has backed this stupid war completely. The narrative, which will be fed to the American People, by this propaganda machine will not be favorable to a Democratic Congress.
And, withdrawal from Iraq will be followed for months and years by a series of events catastrophic to American interests in the region. Stability will not magically reappear. At best, Iran may assume control of much of Iraq; at worst, Iran and Saudi Arabia will fight a prolonged proxy war.
Odom is wrong to attribute the dire situation entirely to the mere fact of the war. In fact, the conduct of the war by the U.S. has largely created the chaos in Iraq. The corrupt and incompetent conduct of the war has created the chaos in Iraq. Bush’s corrupt and incompetent conduct of the occupation and reconstruction has created the chaos in Iraq.
Everywhere, political punditry from the Right concentrates on ignoring, or distracting from, the massive contribution to Iraqi chaos made by Bush’s conduct of the occupation and reconstruction. And, too many on the Left help them in this effort, prattling on about “age-old” conflicts between Shia and Sunni, with scarcely a word about how the institutions of secular society were ground to dust, leaving only ancient tribal affiliations.
The critical work of the Congress in the next 6 months is to build the narrative, which places the responsibility for the course of the Iraq War on its conduct. The narrative, favored by the self-destructive left, of a war that was doomed from the outset, is welcomed by the Right, which wishes to gloss over the corruption, malfeasance and incompetence. I am no fan of Hillary's (or Kerry's) conspicuous calculation, but Hillary is right to remind Democratic Primary voters that the mistakes in Iraq belong to Bush. Squabbling over which Democrats have uttered mea culpas on their support for the Iraq War at the outset does not build a political majority. Focusing attention on Bush's conduct of the war, and how the conduct of the war has contributed to the hopelessness of the current situation -- there Bush's responsibility is unambiguous and unshared.
With the foundation afforded by a narrative of Iraq failure, which clearly fixed blame on the incompetence and corruption of Republicans, the Democrats might be able to sell the idea that it is too late in Iraq, to recover. And, with that foundation, the Democrats will be able to get the country out of Iraq, without destroying themselves.
The story of how Bush conducted the war, and how that conduct led to the on-going fiasco and catastrophe, which is Iraq, is the story ALL Democrats should be telling, over and over, until nothing else can be heard in this country, and the U.S. gets out, out, out.