Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
Mr. Bush has a very difficult internal problem here because to make the kind of concession that is strategically appropriate requires a mitigation of policies he has several times affirmed in high-flown pronouncements. His challenge is to persuade himself that he can submit to a historical reality without forswearing basic commitments in foreign policy.
He will certainly face the current development as military leaders are expected to do: They are called upon to acknowledge a tactical setback, but to insist on the survival of strategic policies.
Yes, but within their own counsels, different plans have to be made. And the kernel here is the acknowledgment of defeat.
I’m heartened to see at least one leading conservative confess to a truth that so many of us recognized over a year ago. Now we'll see how long it takes the White House and its supporters in Congress to face facts.
Stand by for Bill Kristol, Donald Kagan, and the other neoconservatives who crafted the Iraq policy to start laying blame on Rumsfeld, and laying it on thick. Rumsfeld certainly has much to answer for, but his conduct of the Iraq War was not nearly so disastrous than the existence of the War in the first place, and Rumsfeld didn't cook that scheme up in a vacuum. He had a lot of company: Kristol and Kagan, Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Dick Armitage, Bill Bennett, and John Bolton, just to name a few of the co-conspirators.
From my perspective, our military performed magnificently. Our men and women in uniform did the job they were trained to do: defeat the Iraqi armed forces. That they have been unable to quell a combination of an insurgency and a civil war is nothing for them to hang their heads over. That's not the kind of thing they were designed for.
America's failures in Iraq have been failures of foreign policy, a horribly misguided policy shaped behind closed doors by the Project for the New American Century and blindly adhered to long after ground truth had revealed its fundamental flaws.
The question for America is how much further will the Bush administration take us down this slope?
The probable answer: as far as we let them.