Have Failed in Iraq
awaits the findings of the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group as to how,
exactly, to proceed in Iraq, I have at last come to the conclusion that
our country’s objective in that country has failed. Whatever our
intentions, and whatever our reasons for the original invasion, the
window for ultimate success in turning Iraq into a stable democracy has,
I do not
reach this conclusion lightly, or gleefully. In fact, I was an unabashed
supporter of the original invasion. I honestly believed at the time in
the international consensus that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons
of mass destruction, and that the spread of democracy to the Middle East
was something that should be encouraged. For a period of six months or
so in late 2002/early 2003, I don’t think a day went by when I didn’t
get into at least one really long argument about the war.
people are arguing about Iraq anymore. The multi-pronged insurgency has
increased in size, power and self-sufficiency, turning the nascent
democracy into a full-fledged, sectarian civil war, one that merely in
its infancy has already claimed thousands of lives. When NBC News
declared on Nov. 27 that it would refer to the conflict as a “civil
war,” it was notable only for coming about a year too late.
Was this inevitable? It’s hard to say. Could an invading army have gone
into Iraq, captured Saddam Hussein, pacified the country and established
a stable, coherent democracy in the space of a couple of years? I’m not
convinced that the answer is no. Of course it’s great that Saddam is
rotting in a jail cell, and probably facing execution, rather than
continuing to rule Iraq. It’s just too bad that what has replaced him
may very well be even worse.
unfortunately, you go to war with the president you have. And President
Bush’s mishandling of the war, from its first day, will be the ultimate
legacy of his sorry presidency.
convinced that the Bush Administration “rushed to war” or “lied us into
war.” It was, in fact, the longest debate over whether or not to go to
war in our nation’s history, and there was actually a consensus across
the parties - and across the world - that Saddam had WMDs.
and his cronies did, indeed, lie, after the war started. They lied about
the progress of the war, they lied about the severity of the situation
and they lied about the motives of those who opposed or even questioned
the administration’s strategy. Then, when they finally abandoned the
notion of “stay the course,” they lied about having advocated staying
argued, over a year ago, that the insurgency was in its “death throes.”
Sean Hannity said, as recently as six months ago, that America is “on
the verge of victory.” And throughout it all, liberals and the news
media have been blamed for any and all negative news, including the
spread of the blatantly false notions that criticism of the war equals
criticism of the troops. Donald Rumsfeld spent three years avoiding the
truth of what was happening in Iraq – and it took an electoral disaster
to force his ultimate exit.
worst of all, Bush and Rumsfeld’s mis-prosecution of the war may have
killed the hopes for democracy in the Mideast for a generation or more.
The Middle Eastern democracy project was a worthy and necessary one,
especially after the events of 9/11 and this decade’s flareups in the
liberal who originally supported the war, Peter Beinart, perhaps said it
best last week. Writing in a special issue of The New Republic in
which more than 20 leading thinkers expounded on what to do next,
Beinart stated that we have reached a point in Iraq in which we can
neither stay nor leave. The best argument for staying is that we cannot
leave and vice versa.
TNR’s 20 writers have a perfect solution, and needless to say,
neither do I. But after more than three years of arguments about whether
Iraq is or isn’t Vietnam, America may very well have walked into a
situation that is even worse than Vietnam.
feedback on this column,
© 2006 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
is Column # SS19.
Request permission to publish here.