Victory Will Take Time
Our strategy is working: Much has been accomplished in Iraq, including the removal of Saddam’s tyranny, negotiation of an interim constitution, restoration of full sovereignty, holding of free national elections, formation of an elected government, drafting of a permanent constitution, ratification of that constitution, introduction of a sound currency, gradual restoration of neglected infrastructure, the ongoing training and equipping of Iraqi security forces, and the increasing capability of those forces to take on the terrorists and secure their nation.
Yet many challenges remain: Iraq is overcoming decades of a vicious tyranny, where governmental authority stemmed solely from fear, terror, and brutality.
It is not realistic to expect a fully functioning democracy, able to defeat its enemies and peacefully reconcile generational grievances, to be in place less than three years after Saddam was finally removed from power.
Our comprehensive strategy will help Iraqis overcome remaining challenges, but defeating the multi-headed enemy in Iraq -- and ensuring that it cannot threaten Iraq’s democratic gains once we leave -- requires persistent effort across many fronts.
Our Victory Strategy Is (and Must Be) Conditions Based
With resolve, victory will be achieved, although not by a date certain.
No war has ever been won on a timetable and neither will this one.
But lack of a timetable does not mean our posture in Iraq (both military and civilian) will remain static over time. As conditions change, our posture will change.
We expect, but cannot guarantee, that our force posture will change over the next year, as the political process advances and Iraqi security forces grow and gain experience.
While our military presence may become less visible, it will remain lethal and decisive, able to confront the enemy wherever it may organize.
Our mission in Iraq is to win the war. Our troops will return home when that mission is complete.
Mac Owens rather liked the speech:
Our demagogues have pandered to the fears and weaknesses of the American rather than to their virtues and strengths. In his Naval Academy speech, President Bush did just the opposite, exercising his “duty [as one whom the people have] appointed to be the guardians of [their] … interests, to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection.”
Today’s speech is the opening salvo in a campaign of public diplomacy to reinvigorate the war effort and restore public support for our enterprise in Iraq. It coincides with the release of the president’s Iraq strategy document, which is important in and of itself. The fact is that the United States has always had a strategy for Iraq, but any strategy worthy of the name must be adaptable.
What critics mean when they say there is no strategy is that they don’t like what the president is doing, although none have offered any alternative but withdrawal. By publishing the outline of his strategy, the president makes it impossible for his critics to take the easy way out. now they will have to put up or shut up…if only.
So did Rich Lowry.
Here’s an account of the predictably negative Democratic response: where once at least a few of them called for more boots on the ground, the chorus now is that our presence is provoking the insurgency. Nancy Pelosi has gone further, actually endorsing John Murtha’s plan for a rapid withdrawal and claiming that at least half the Democratic caucus agrees with her. Bill Kristol thinks this is a bad, nay "disastrous," move:
Pelosi’s endorsement today of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq makes the House Democrats the party of defeat, the party of surrender. Bush’s strong speech today means the GOP is likely to be--if Republican Congressmen just keep their nerve--the party of victory. Now it is possible that the situation in Iraq will worsen over the next year. If that happens, Bush and the GOP are in deep trouble. They would have been if Pelosi had said nothing. But it is much more likely that the situation in Iraq will stay more or less the same, or improve. In either case, Republicans will benefit from being the party of victory.
My bottom line: a very good speech (more please!) and a hollow response, largely bereft of any serious thinking.