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.
In any case, Mr. Bush's excuses were tragically inadequate. The nation needs an eyes-wide-open recognition that the only goal left is to get the U.S. military out of this civil war in a way that could minimize the slaughter of Iraqis and reduce the chances that the chaos Mr. Bush unleashed will engulf Iraq's neighbors.
What it certainly did not need were more of Mr. Bush's open-ended threats to Iran and Syria.
We have argued that the United States has a moral obligation to stay in Iraq as long as there is a chance to mitigate the damage that a quick withdrawal might cause. We have called for an effort to secure Baghdad, but as part of the sort of comprehensive political solution utterly lacking in Mr. Bush's speech. 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.
We are not going to get out of the dishonorable mess Bush has caused us to be in by thinking we can let the same man who started it try to end it using the same mindset that started it. He doesn't want to end it as long as he thinks he can salvage his "legacy".
Whether or not he gets to try to widen his war to Syria and Iran, whether or not his friends continue to reap vast wealth by stealing Iraq's riches and our tax money, no matter the eventual disastrous outcome of the whole deal, Bush's legacy is set in stone: like an ignorant, petulant little kid, he lit a fuse that may yet reach the powder keg that will blow up half the world. The results aren't all in yet, won't be for years, but Bush did it.
Anyone who thinks we are going to "win" anything, or "succeed" in this vast criminal endeavor is drinking his bathwater. It is lost. It has failed. There has never been and will never be any other possible outcome. The decision to invade Iraq, which was no threat to us, was immoral to begin with and handled in the most incompetent way it possibly could have been. Garbage in, garbage out.
It's what we get, deserve even, for allowing this human garbage to be installed in the White House. The one lesson we may have learned from Bush's poisonous reign is that we need to watch like a hawk lest some future insane idealogues ever try to hijack our country again.
We have one thing in common with Iraq: we've both been screwed by Bush and the neocons. Those are the enemies we need to deal with here at home. Iraq must do what Iraq must do. We need to be out of it.
Our troops will continue to die and be maimed for life mentally and physically, and even more families will suffer, all in vain, all for this bully's ego, until someone physically removes this horrid little man from the position of power that allowed and continues to allow him to perpetrate his madness.