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Thursday, June 01, 2006

THIRD WAY: Either you support the Bush administration's management of the Iraq war, or you favor the Kerry-Sheehan "apologize & come home yesterday" non-approach. For quite some time that's been the unstated de facto binary choice. Yet with each passing day the need for a third alternative becomes clear — one that realizes it was right to topple Saddam but America's post-toppling strategy has been at best wanting, at worst unspeakably negligent. With each passing day, the Vietnam analogy seems more apt. By this I mean not to join the left's criticism ("We should never have gone, it's not our business, we should have spent the money on free health care in the USA"). Instead I'm talking about the Bush administration's failure to use serious firepower in the early stages and their seeming lack of post-Saddam planning to win the peace. Count me perplexed as to how the U.S. can hope to achieve anything like genuine victory so long as we're conducting this middle-range military strategy of too little to succeed and just enough to keep egging on jihadists for whom the chance to die in warfare is literally the opportunity of a lifetime. Again, Shelby Steele's speculations ("Why this new minimalism in war?") merit serious attention. In a nutshell: I have no interest in giving aid and comfort to the left's unapologetic hopes for American failure ... but I am unable to express confidence that team Bush has a concrete plan for success in Iraq. "Stay the course" is a mantra that's wearing thin for this American who wants our fighting men and women to succeed. By winning.