This is an eminently sensible OPED by Brzezinski that ends with the advice that the president should expand his circle of advisors, and begins with the observation that we need a much more nuanced sense of possible outcomes. rather a black and white view of winning vs. losing. On the latter point, there is nothing in the president's behavior that indicates any doubt on his part of the fantasy construction that so preoccupies him, namely the idea of a stable democratic peace. Until he comes to understand that the outcome that imagines, however soothing, has no relationship to any likely outcome in Iraq he will see any advice that contradicts his fantasy as defeatist and hostile.
One of the sad lessons of past crises, including the revolution in Iran, which Ziggy knows so well, is that it is very hard to challenge the prevailing White House paradigm. Remember, it was November 1978 before the Carter White House began to seriously grapple with the fact that the Shah was probably done. In contract, attentive newspaper readers had figured that out two months before.
The Real Choice in Iraq
"The requisite first step to that end is for the president to break out of his political cocoon. His policymaking and his speeches are the products of the true believers around him who are largely responsible for the mess in Iraq. They have a special stake in their definition of victory, and they reinforce his convictions instead of refining his judgments. The president badly needs to widen his circle of advisers. Why not consult some esteemed Republicans and Democrats not seeking public office -- say, Warren Rudman or Colin Powell or Lee Hamilton or George Mitchell -- regarding the definition of an attainable yet tolerable outcome in Iraq?"