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Monday, January 31, 2005

Hope is not a strategy?

Yesterday, we took the kids for a bit of an outdoor adventure. They got to ride about a quarter-mile in this contraption.

Before they could ride, we had to sign a waiver promising not to litigate in case of personal disaster. Keep in mind that the kids really, really, really wanted to ride behind those Alaskan sled dogs.

Of course, we had no idea whether or not it was safe. We saw a few kids ride, we knew that the same people gave rides for a couple of hours Saturday in a different Boston park...the driver seemed like a reasonable guy.

But, after all, we're talking about our flesh and blood, to be pulled along in a small unprotected vehicle by a dozen Alaskan sled dogs through the remains of Boston's more than two-foot blizzard of last an area unknown to us, called Belle Isle Marsh.

So, what to do?

My wife signed the form and we hoped for the best.

And it worked out great. The kids had a really good time. They couldn't wait to talk to grandparents and to email their school friends back home about the experience.

In some ways, my family's personal dilemma Sunday was kind of like America's strategy in Iraq. Given limited information and experience, what does a person do in a difficult situation? One option is awfully tempting, but there may be no way of knowing whether it will work out.

How often does a country democratize successfully after foreign military occupation? Can it happen in the Middle East? Do all the relevant parties think the elections were legitimate?

Yet, what are the alternatives? Nation-building is a very difficult task. The status quo is unacceptable. To cut and run might mean civil war. Can elections work?

The questions are almost endless.

On Monday's "Daily Show," political analyst Fareed Zakaria pointed out that 42 of 48 countries in Africa have had elections; Haiti has had an election. Presumably, he noted these past failures to emphasize the strong possibility of failure in Iraq.

Then again, Zakaria expressed hope that it would all work out.


OK, let's all hope.

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