War always has, and always will, be about imposing one's will upon another. Success in war means you have the power to effect that will.
America is gambling that it has the resolve and the power to impose its will upon Islamic militants. America has put its reputation on the line, committing itself to helping the Iraqi people build a free and democratic society.
Winning in Iraq means the marginalization of the Sunni insurgency and al Qaeda as potent forces in the world. They know that. Both forces have compared their fight with America to the Vietnam War, the American failure in Somalia and the failure in Beruit. Al Qaeda attacked on 9/11 believing America would cut and run. Our failures in Vietnam, in Beruit, in Somalia emboldened al Qaeda and continues to embolden the Sunni insurgency.
We cannot let them win in Iraq. Too much is at stake.
We have, and have had, a consistent and comprehensive strategy. We have, and have had, definite goals, tactics, objectives. Just because we did not analyze them to death, just because we didn't laboriously compose, write and publish a 500 page "peace" document (a la Richard Holbrooke and Bosnia) detailing beforehand exactly what those objectives were and how were going to accomplish it and when each milestone would be met, does not mean we went in blind.
As much as I enjoy analysis in the extreme, I have a great deal of respect for leaders who take action because it is Right, and not merely because of, or only after, all the i's have been meticulously dotted and all the t's scrupulously crossed.
Three years after President Bush took action, the words he spoke in early 2003, laying out the broad reasons and objectives, are accurately reflected as those i's and t's are dotted and crossed in the recently released Administration's National Strategy for Victory in Iraq.
Who do YOU want leading the country? A President who writes 500 page edited scripts before considering any action, or one who acts when necessary? A President who does not give the troops the support they need to mount a simple rescue operation of a downed Black Hawk helicopter, or one stays in the fight even while taking flak from his own rear echelon? A President who acts only when the political risks have been managed to death, or one who takes those risks before they become unmanageable?
I have been reading the National Strategy. It is clear, it is concise (38 pages in PDF format), it is comprehensive, it is consistent. And it is no different than what President Bush has been saying for three years.
I will post the quotes from Bush offered in the Strategy. These are not equivocal by any stretch of the imagination.
The Strategy is clear. The enemy must, will, be defeated. Iraq will be protected until she can stand on her own, with established democratic institutions and a fair chance to survive in the long term.
The Reason is clear. The Middle East is a vital strategic interest to America. Fostering democracy is the best means we have to establishing a free, peaceful, stable world. To fail is to crawl up behind two oceans and turn our back on the world. But remember, those two oceans didn't stop 9/11 from happening. We either work to make the world safer, or we resign ourselves and learn to accept anarchy and chaos.
The Means is clear. We will support Iraq in building a constitutional and representative government. We will provide for Iraq's security and help in creating her own security services.
Politically, we will isolate the enemy from those who can be won over by democratic processes, we will engage all who want to be a party to the political process, we will help build national institutions to create a society ruled by law, not the whims of tyrants.
Militarily, we will clear territory of enemy influence and control, we will hold that area with the ever-expanding Iraqi security forces, and we will build local institutions to secure the rule of law and civil society in those areas. And we will not stop until we succeed.
Economically, we will restore the economic infrastructure, we will reform the economic infrastructure from the legacy of the Tyrant to a modern self-sustaining one, we will build an infrastructure governed by the rule of law and one that improve the general welfare of all Iraqis.
Yes, these are "talking points". So what? Shouldn't we be talking about this?
Bush has put America's reputation on the line. Those that would lament that do not seem to understand that a reputation that is mere potential is merely nothing.