…A democracy, wrote the diplomat and scholar George Kennan, “fights for the very reason that it was forced to go to war. It fights to punish the power that was rash enough and hostile enough to provoke it — to teach that power a lesson it will not forget, to prevent the thing from happening again. Such a war must be carried to the bitter end.” Which is why “unconditional surrender” was a natural U.S. goal in World War II, and why Americans were so uncomfortable with three “wars of choice” since then — in Korea, Vietnam and Iraq.
What “forced” America to go to war in 2003 — the “gathering danger” of weapons of mass destruction — was fictitious. That is one reason why this war will not be fought, at least not by Americans, to the bitter end. The end of the war will, however, be bitter for Americans, partly because the president’s decision to visit Iraq without visiting its capital confirmed the flimsiness of the fallback rationale for the war — the creation of a unified, pluralist Iraq.
After more than four years of war, two questions persist: Is there an Iraq? Are there Iraqis?
excerpt from “By Bush’s Own Standard, Surge Has Failed“
George Will is a reasonable man, and it’s hard to disagree with his assessment of the lack of political progress in Iraq. Even with all of the military gains we have made during the surge, it’s undeniable that there is more work to be done with Iraq’s government and making sure that all of Iraq’s minority groups have a voice in its governance. General Petraeus said as much during his statement to the Congress Monday and Tuesday.
We are at an unfortunate point in the Iraq War. If we continue on the current course, we will continue to make military progress in Iraq, but that progress might not be fast enough to convince the American people that it’s taking place. If we withdraw as the Democrats want to do, it will strengthen Iran — a country which is clearly helping the insurgents and terrorists and one close to nuclear capability — and it certainly won’t hurt Al Qaeda recruitment efforts. Either way, there are no guarantees that the political progress we all want to see will happen. The question is how long we are willing to wait for that progress.