One of the most vulernable areas for Bush is the situation (i.e. mess) in Iraq, considering it was an optional misadventure that has been botched ever since the collapse of the Baathist regime. Unfortunately, Kerry being Kerry, he’s been unable to adequately exploit this area to his advantage. I imagine the single largest contributor is that there is an activist base within the Democratic Party that wants nothing more than to dump the whole thing, bring the soldiers home, and pretend it never happened, not willing to face the obvious fact that to do so would be to allow the Islamic Fundamentalists carte blanche to overrun the country and establish a new base for operations. So while Bush may have completely botched the post-war, Kerry must remain committed to a stable government.
To that end, I’ll outline three steps he should endorse that, while potentially difficult to implement, may help prod things along. Certainly, they can’t make things any worse.
1. Push the current governing body for rolling elections in “stable” areas. This idea had been kicked around in the runnup to the end of June soverignty transfer and, I believe, generally remains a good one. If much of the violence remains within the Sunni triangle, the election of local leaders in the remainder of the country may help move along the process.
2. Internationalize security and reconstruction. Put the troops in stable regions under a NATO or other international command. The implementation of rolling elections with a plea from actual elected Iraqi leaders and a willingness to award reconstruction contracts by bringing transparncy to the process may be sufficient to engage some of the more reluctant allies.
3. If the first two items are successful, additional troops may be freed up to focus on the conflict hot spots. In addition, the idea of local elected leaders combined with real examples of the democratic process may help calm tensions in troubled areas.
Certainly there are many pitfalls to this, but there are few other options. Bush has squandered and mismanaged this process for the last two years, and for that alone he should be booted from office. But without Kerry announcing even the outlines of a vaguely different course of action, the Iraq issue becomes a draw at best in November.