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The Truth Is Beginning to Seep In

January 12th, 2007

What we need is more opinion pieces like this one from the New York Times [login may be required], which clearly notes the fact that Iraq has failed beyond repair, and that failure does not lie in the future, but instead lies in the past with Bush’s massive failures:

“President Bush told Americans last night that failure in Iraq would be a disaster. The disaster is Mr. Bush’s war, and he has already failed. Last night was his chance to stop offering more fog and be honest with the nation, and he did not take it.

Americans needed to hear a clear plan to extricate United States troops from the disaster that Mr. Bush created. What they got was more gauzy talk of victory in the war on terrorism and of creating a “young democracy” in Iraq. In other words, a way for this president to run out the clock and leave his mess for the next one.

Mr. Bush did acknowledge that some of his previous tactics had failed. But even then, the president sounded as if he were an accidental tourist in Iraq. He described the failure of last year’s effort to pacify Baghdad as if the White House and the Pentagon bore no responsibility. …

This war has reached the point that merely prolonging it could make a bad ending even worse. Without a real plan to bring it to a close, there is no point in talking about jobs programs and military offensives. There is nothing ahead but even greater disaster in Iraq.”

This is what the American people are beginning to realize. It is an issue that is beyond simple disapproval of Bush’s performance. It involves realizing that failure has already occurred, the the situation in Iraq has gone beyond salvage, and no amount of wishful thinking will change that. This is not something that is hard to see if you look at the situation objectively. More than two years ago, I wrote:

And now more and more analysts are beginning to come out and say it outright: we are losing the war in Iraq. Or, more specifically, Bush is losing the war in Iraq. The soldiers fight on, doing their best, but all a soldier can do is just that–their best. If their commander-in-chief chooses the wrong battle or mishandles his strategy, then there’s little that any soldier can do.

Before the war started, the Arab league predicted that if Bush invaded, it would “open the gates of hell in the Middle East,” and now they’re saying that the gates of hell are indeed open; some analysts see the was as already lost; and this writer [broken link] notes that the correspondence between Bush’s rosy assessments and the reality on the ground are becoming more and more dissonant.

Less than a year after that, about 16 months ago, I also noted:

Bush has lost the war in Iraq. He no longer expects there to be a democracy, but instead an Islamic republic probably driven by extremists. He can’t defeat the insurgents. He can’t get Iraq to be even as safe or prosperous as it was under Saddam Hussein (when you’re a worse leader than Hussein, that’s really pathetic).

This was back when Bush was “significantly lowering expectations of what can be achieved in Iraq,” apparently either floating some test balloons for a troop pullout without admitting defeat, or at least preemptively trying to lower the bar, to stem the political damage from a loss that even they could see. But my point here is that it was clear by that time that the war was lost, and it was clear a year before that that the war was being lost.

It has just taken a long time, far too long, for this to sink in with most Americans. Understandably so–we do not wish to fail, and nobody wants to think that we have sacrificed so much for a lost cause. And so long as the White House and the many conservative spinmasters could make even the weakest believable case that success could still be had or even that things were not so bad in Iraq, many Americans held on to hope, despite the inevitabilities of reality.

But now, it’s becoming pretty much evident to a majority of Americans that there is no more hope in Iraq. Now the issue is more of how we can extract ourselves while salvaging as much as possible in Iraq–a feat that is being marred by Bush’s continuing inability to admit to the truth, and even more importantly, accepting true responsibility for his massive failures. As long as he denies that he lost the war, as long as he pretends that he can still win it, he will continue to damage the situation even more irrevocably.

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