Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Bush Error

The Wall Street Journal has a piece up today by Douglass Feith entitled "How Bush Sold the War." It is a good piece, but this is the most important part:

But the most damaging effect of this communications strategy was that it changed the definition of success. Before the war, administration officials said that success would mean an Iraq that no longer threatened important U.S. interests – that did not support terrorism, aspire to WMD, threaten its neighbors, or conduct mass murder. But from the fall of 2003 on, the president defined success as stable democracy in Iraq.

This was a public affairs decision that has had enormous strategic consequences for American support for the war. The new formula fails to connect the Iraq war directly to U.S. interests. It causes many Americans to question why we should be investing so much blood and treasure for Iraqis. And many Americans doubt that the new aim is realistic – that stable democracy can be achieved in Iraq in the foreseeable future.

In fairness to the administration, they were taking a beating on WMD, and at that time the shift made sense, but only because they seemingly could not assertively defend themselves as well as their supporters did. They gave up that battle, and in doing so, they did sever the connection to American interests. However history views this war, it will look back on the rhetorical change as the point where the Bush administration began to hamstring itself on the home front.

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