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January 18, 2009


Eric Chen

The solution is for the media to get substantive with sober appraisals of where we are now and what next, and the challenges at home and abroad Obama must navigate in his first '100 days'.

More of this -http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/16/AR2009011603721.html:

The key to success in Iraq, insists Crocker, was the psychological impact of Bush's decision to add troops. "In the teeth of ferociously negative popular opinion, in the face of a lot of well-reasoned advice to the contrary, he said he was going forward, not backward."

Bush's decision rocked America's adversaries, says Crocker: "The lesson they had learned from Lebanon was, 'Stick it to the Americans, make them feel the pain, and they won't have the stomach to stick it out.' That assumption was challenged by the surge."

Soon, Iraq will be Barack Obama's problem. And I ask Crocker what mistakes the new administration could make. He answers that he thinks it will avoid these errors, but he lists them anyway: "Concluding that this was the Bush administration's war, that it's stable enough now, that we don't want to inherit it, so we're going to back away."

Most of all, says Crocker, policymakers need to understand that this is a long game. A lasting change in Iraq isn't an on-off switch: "Not this year, not in five years, maybe not in 10 years."

The overarching lesson, he says, not just of Iraq but of his entire career, is that events have consequences that cannot be predicted, or escaped: "When we are part of a sweeping and traumatic set of events, we've got to understand that currents are set in motion that will play themselves out for many years, in ways that we can't always understand."

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