Repeat after me: ‘failure is not an option’. Say it three times, real sloooooow. Bush said it, Reid said it, McCain said it, Warner said it, Biden said it. Guess who else said it…and when:

“I think there is a real risk that the administration underestimates the difficulties. They may agree that failure isn’t an option, but this does not mean they will necessarily avoid it.”

– David Manning, Blair’s chief foreign policy adviser, March 14th, 2002.

Okay. What will happen if we ‘fail’. What do we define as a failure? The level of discourse on this most important issue is pathetic. If failure means that we don’t get to keep military bases in Iraq, I don’t consider that a failure. We can come up with alternative ways to assure an uninterrupted flow of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf.

If failure means that there is a prolonged civil war in Iraq, what are the risks to the world economy, what are the risks to the Kurdish population? Is Juan Cole right that it could cause a world depression?

There are a lot of questions to ask, and to attempt to answer. But no one wants to discuss them.

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