Behind this dilemma lies the fact that the Bush Administration has created such a debacle in Iraq that there is no good way out. All plans are full of hazards. Americans are divided right down the middle on whether to stay or to go. This reflects the fact that neither way looks hopeful. Any course chosen now will have dangers of unknown character and proportions. We have to find the least bad way, and that most certainly does not include continuing the present course which has brought us to the present morass.
Here is where where the third element enters to create not merely a dilemma but a trilemma: for Democrats to suggest that no good option is available to get us out of the mess opens them to the charge of practicing the politics of despair.
What, then, are they to do? There is no way to escape fully the trilemma, but it can be approached in the least damaging fashion. The main point is that the Democrats should offer as the first step not a plan but a procedure for finding the best way forward. It follows that Democrats need to concentrate at the moment on the morass into which the Bush policies have landed us. Objections should be met by pointing out forcefully and repeatedly how ridiculous it is to criticize Democrats for their inability to provide an unambiguous way out a mess Bush has created that it is so disastrous that only imperfect alternatives are possible.
It follows from this that the blunders of Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, and company have totally disqualified them from being in charge of the future. In support are the following:
1. It was a mistake to go to war in Iraq. A majority of Americans have believed this for some time.
2. The war has been conducted badly with tragic results. Look at the evidence on the ground in Iraq. The situation is bad and getting worse.
3. The war in Iraq and the war on terror are not the same, as much as the Bush crowd would have us believe that it is.. The war in Iraq has made the terror problem worse not better. The intelligence community has confirmed what reporters on the ground have long known -- the Iraq war has produced more jihadists and created more hatred for America around the world.
4. The Bush Administration is so bound to its fallacious dogmas and to a defensive posture that cannot admit to anything but minor tactical errors that it is incapable of finding the new directions that are encessary.
Hence, the Bush agenda must be thoroughly discredited so new leaders can seek the best way out of a bad situation. That would take the form of seeking a bipartisan solution with input from citizens representing diverse opinions. Other vital parties in the area and in Europe must be invited to help find a productive way forward. No solution will be perfect, so it must have wide support moving toward a consensus to the extent that is possible. A bipartisan proposal would mean that both parties would have to accept the blame for any failures that occur.