Years ago I worked with Jay, a man who had a rather droll wit. He once told me that he was having trouble with his TV. "I only get good reception if I sit on the couch and raise my right arm into the air. It is bad enough in normal times but it is really a hassle when I'm trying to watch TV while eating," he said as he demonstrated the arm up maneuver.
This image has come to me as I listen to reports on Iraq and Afghanistan. Right now, violence has lessened in Iraq. But we are paying warlords money to keep the peace. We have the equivalent of airport security procedures for people coming into Basra (imagine that every time you came back into your home town you had to walk through metal detectors and put your packages through x-ray machines) and other places. We have peace, but there is a real question about how long we can keep the one arm up in the air, pretending that this is how we had always intended to watch TV.
I wonder if the simplest way to characterize George W. Bush's administration isn't with one simple word: unsustainable. From budgets, infrastructure investment and global warming policy to his efforts in Iraq, George seems to have a knack for strategies that can't be sustained.