Tuesday, May 23, 2006

On War

Amidst the debate and acrimony concerning the war, I think that everyone is missing a simple truth: Bush sold the war based on some pretty reasonable arguments. A large majority of Americans bought his arguments. Now he continues to recycle many of them in order to keep support for his administration. But whether or not those arguments are correct are pretty immaterial to our current situation.

The administration did an excellent job of defeating the pathetic Iraqi army and capturing Saddam. And the President's approval was in the stratosphere. Now the President is doing a lousy job on security and nation building, and the President is deeply unpopular.

Some have made excellent, principled arguments for the administration and the war. Others have made equally excellent and principled arguments against them. But the fact of the matter is that Americans care about results. The most common argument I heard before the war from people outside the Beltway was simply "He hates us, we hate him. If we can take him out, why shouldn't we?" If Bush hadn't of screwed up the post-war, 65% of the country wouldn't care if Bush said Saddam had (or probably had, or would soon build) WMD. They wouldn't care about the lies, the deception, the Downing Street memo, the huge cost overruns, the corruption, or the general mismanagement. But Bush did screw up the post-war, and isn't doing such a good job on the domestic front either (Katrina, Medicare, the deficit, your choice of social issues), and now people across the political spectrum are finding reasons to hate him.

If Bush wants to be popular again, he must alter events for the better. I hope he does, because as much as I hate him, I love America and want all of us to succeed. If Bush fails to do that, Iraq will continue to be a debacle and he will go down as a failed President. As my brother the combat medic told me on his return from Fallujah, "I supported it - I volunteered - I just didn't realize they were going to screw it up so badly. I hope they find a way to fix it, but I don't see how they can."
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