The Therapy Sessions
Friday, June 17, 2005
The will to win
I find that this return visit to Iraq spurs thoughts...of American will to pursue victory. I don't mean the will of US forces in the field. Wander around with a bunch of Marines for a half hour, spend fifteen minutes with Guardsmen from Idaho, and you will have no doubts about American military capabilities or the troops' will to win.
But our weakness is back home, on the couch, in front of the tv, on the cable squawk shows, on the editorial page of the New York Times, in the political gotcha games of Washington, DC. It seems America wants to get on with its wonderful Electra-Glide life, that September 10 sense of freedom and security, without finishing the job. The military is fighting, the Iraqi people are fighting, but where is the US political class? The Bush Administration has yet to ask the American people - correction, has yet to demand of the American people - the sustained, shared sacrifice it takes to win this long, intricate war of bullets, ballots, and bricks. Bullets go bang, and even CBS understands bullets. Ballots make an impression.
In terms of this war's battlespace, the January Iraqi elections were World War Two's D-Day and the Battle of the Bulge combined. But the bricks - the building of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the other hard corners where this war is and will be fought - that's a delicate and decades long challenge. Given the vicious, megalomanical enemy we face, five years, perhaps fifteen years from now occasional bullets and bombs will disrupt the political and economic building. This is the Bush Administration's biggest strategic mistake - a failure to tap the reservoir of American willingness 9/11 produced.