Something on the lighter side for Saturday night: on the same day that Iran offered to arm Israel’s neighbors (read: Lebanon) with ballistic missiles, Hezbollah pulled out of the Lebanese government, and Tony Snow labeled the Iranian-Hezbollah axis a “global nexus of terrorism,” the Times of London reports on Robert Gates’s strategy as the new SecDef. A potential key component? Talking with Iran:
[T]he pressure is on Gates to do more than canvass opinions. Will he be able to take the hard decisions necessary to chart a new course in Iraq? Bush claimed last week that he was “open to any ideas” on how to win in Iraq. He is to meet members of the Baker commission tomorrow to discuss their thinking. On Tuesday Tony Blair will give evidence to them by video link. He will urge the Bush administration to open talks with Iran and Syria on a Middle East settlement.
Gates will not take much persuading from Blair, having argued for dialogue with Iran two years ago. “He comes from the old Bush 1 school that it’s important to talk to your enemies, but we can’t underestimate the role the president plays in all this and he’s been pretty intransigent,” said a colleague on the Iraq Study Group.
The New York Times says Gates was the choice in no small part because he and Condi Rice work well together. Gulp.
They’ve also put up a new editorial which (a) notes that the Democrats might want to start thinking about a plan for Iraq now that they’ve been swept into power, and (b) stresses that whatever they come up with probably won’t matter.
Let us be clear. The responsibility for all that has gone wrong lies squarely with Mr. Bush. Even with control of the Congress, the Democrats’ role in changing things will be hortatory…
Under Republican control, Congress has exercised virtually no oversight of the administration’s misconduct of the war, and the new Democratic leadership is eager to hold extensive hearings. The public deserves a full accounting (backed by subpoenas, if necessary) of how prewar intelligence was cooked, why American troops were sent to war without adequate armor, and where billions of dollars in reconstruction aid disappeared to…
[Ideas like partition] deserve a full discussion, something the United States has not had since its troops first rolled into Iraq. We are not sure that any shift in strategy can contain the disaster.
They do make one interesting suggestion — threatening to pull out and leave Nuri al-Maliki to the wolves if he doesn’t crack down on the Shiite militias immediately. Time is of the essence.
Update: Oh, sweet Jesus.
Update: Ohhhhhh, sweet Jesus.