Writing in the Washington Post today, George Will poses a question that I’ve been wondering about lately: if political pressure on the Bush Administration forces a substantial withdrawal of troops sooner rather than later, just as conservatives in the US begin to hope that the tide is turning, what the hell will that do to any prospects for bipartisanship any time in, oh, the next couple of decades? As Will observes:
Come September, America might slip closer toward a Weimar moment. It would be milder than the original but significantly disagreeable. After the First World War, politics in Germany’s new Weimar Republic were poisoned by the belief that the army had been poised for victory in 1918 and that one more surge could have turned the tide. Many Germans bitterly concluded that the political class, having lost its nerve and will to win, capitulated. The fact that fanciful analysis fed this rancor did not diminish its power.
The Weimar Republic was fragile; America’s domestic tranquility is not. Still, remember the bitterness stirred by the accusatory question “Who lost China?” and corrosive suspicions that the fruits of victory in Europe had been squandered by Americans of bad character or bad motives at Yalta. So, consider this: When Gen. David Petraeus delivers his report on the war, his Washington audience will include two militant factions. Perhaps nothing he can responsibly say will sway either, so September will reinforce animosities.