Welcome Back To Reality

Several days ago the blogosphere was set ablaze by a New York Times op ed by supposed critics of the Bush Administration that made the claim that we were finally not only on the right track, but seeing real on the ground improvement.

In the old days of dinosaurs and primitive internet usage, this may have stood. But in today’s age, the piece was thrown into the crucible of the political blogosphere and the truth that seemed to remain among the ashes was that the authors weren’t just sipping the kool aid, they were flat out puke-in-your-shoes drunk with it.

While conservative bloggers hailed it as yet another scrap of evidence that we on the left were defeatist cut-and-runners who were slowly being forced to face the reality of Iraq actually getting better kicking and screaming, interesting things turned up. For one, the supposed “critics” of the administration weren’t actually critics, and instead were actually long time supporters of the war.

And then there was this whole, Iraq’s getting better, which in truth had very little to do with the truth. It is true, there are some minor improvements, most of them military, most of them not likely to last without the indefinite presence of US troops. As it would later turn out, Iraq, far from getting better, may be on the verge of getting a whole lot worse.

Politically, we learned yesterday that the prominent Sunni bloc quit the Iraqi government a development that doesn’t bode well for the near future of Iraq. Nor, as analysis would have it, did the relatively low number of troop deaths in July point to a possible easing of the violence. When compared to the previous eight months, sure the relatively low mortality rate of US soldiers seem a reprieve, but when this July was compared to Julys in the past, we see not a decrease but a substantial increase in the violence.

In other words, O’Hanlon and Pollack’s piece was a bit of rubbish, and their lefty creds were touted and overblown in order to lend validity to the false concept that not only was Iraq turning the corner, so was public support.

We of the reality based community had to actually face reality.

In a strange turn of events, though, Matthew Yglesias is able to report that O’Hanlon has finally decided to actually face reality and enter the reality based community himself:

[O’Hanlon] [t]otally backed down. Said the progress has only been against aqi, that sectarian violence and the civil war is as bad as ever, and that the current strategy will probably fail. He thinks we should partition the country. Why the turnabout from the optimistic op-ed? He didn’t say.

It’s not that we don’t want to hear good news about Iraq. It’s not that we don’t all want to wake up some morning and magically see that the war is won in Iraq and magically the country turns into a picture of peace and prosperity. I may not particularly enjoy the considerably huge piece of humble pie I would have to eat, but I would grin and bear it as my country’s reputation is saved from the doldrums it’s currently in, and millions of Iraqis are able to enjoy the reprieve from the violence and terror their every day lives have become.

But we don’t see this as a feasibility, not under these policies. After four years of distortion from the administration at every turn, we have grown callous and cynical towards good news, and time and time again this skepticism has been proved incredibly well warranted.

And so we’re a rightfully a tough crowd. We are distrustful of good news, as it often doesn’t pan out, and we get a little irritated when it is amplified because the history is plain and clear that minor good news is often manipulated to create a false picture in an attempt to drum up support.

For my friends on the right, with whom I really don’t wish to fight on this, I offer up to you a simple solution; honesty. Honesty would find us as a nation significantly less divided. We on the left would be more ammenable to good news if it was put in proper context instead of the current situation where every minor op ed or small story of some good being done is pointed to as evidence that we were justified in going into Iraq, that we’re making progress, and we’re about to win the war, we just need to stick it out a little bit longer.

If you treated the good news in Iraq with intellectual honesty, we would start to trust you again. If we could pressure the administration to be honest about the situation in Iraq, we may not be able trust it again, that plate’s long since been broken, but at least there would be some room for mutual understanding.

But the situation now is simply, there’s no trust. There’s no trust that anything will be treated with any kind of honesty, and if we can’t trust in that then we can’t trust in an honest and realistic management of the war. We have no choice.

As for Mr. O’Hanlon, all I can say is welcome to the reality based community. It’s ugly over here, but at least it’s real.

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