Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 23, 2003
By: Kevin Drum

JIMMY CARTER FOR PRESIDENT!....OF IRAQ!....Matt Yglesias is worried that the post-war reconstruction of Iraq will go badly even with the best of intentions because:

....both sides are going to be so focused on trying to pin the blame on the other side if things go wrong that they're going to neglect actually getting the job done and that in a flurry of self-fulfilling expectations, things will go wrong.

Matt thinks Bush should have appointed a bipartisan commission on post-war reconstruction in order to gain the trust of at least the hawkish segment of the Democratic party.

I'll go further: Bush's plan is to have military control of Iraq for a certain (undefined) period, followed by a civilian administrator. I think he should try to convince Jimmy Carter to be that civilian leader.

Sure, conservatives hate him, but consider: he was president of the United States for four years and knows a bit about running a country. He's a prominent dove and would be trusted by lots of people who otherwise wouldn't give Bush the time of day. He's rather famously sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, which means he'd be trusted by the Arabs. And he's a humanitarian, which means he'd be genuinely motivated to help Iraq and the Iraqi people.

This is a fantasy, of course, since Bush has shown over and over that he simply doesn't care about trying to persuade his opponents of anything, but he ought to do it anyway for purely selfish reasons. It would allow him to get on with other tasks without having to constantly respond to criticisms of his Iraq policy and it would lend tremendous credibility to the U.S. reconstruction efforts.

But I wonder: suppose (in some alternate universe) that Bush did this. Would Carter accept? I'm sure he'd hate to lend his credibility to Bush's war, but on the other hand he's pretty famous for his ego in matters like this. I'll bet it would be quite an interior struggle for him to decide what to do.

Kevin Drum 2:14 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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