It is in the nature of gambling that the gamble may lose. The dice have now been well and truly rolled, and they have come up snake eyes. The war’s sole real gain—the overthrow of the murderous Saddam Hussein regime—is mocked by the chaos and suffering that have overwhelmed millions of Iraqis, whose country is again a republic of fear. The concrete losses are horrific: nearly three thousand American and “coalition” troops killed; thousands more maimed; scores of thousands of Iraqi civilians dead; a third of a trillion dollars burned through. So are the less tangible ones: the unprecedented levels of anti-Americanism throughout the Muslim world and Europe; the self-inflicted loss of America’s moral prestige; the neglect of real nuclear dangers, in Iran and North Korea, while chimeras were chased in Iraq. The neoconservative project of a friendly, democratic Middle East, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace, is worse than a charred ruin—it is a flaming inferno.And The New York Times in an editorial on the perversity of staying the course:
After the defeat of Joseph Lieberman in last week’s senatorial primary in Connecticut, spokesmen for the Bush Administration and the Republican Party sought to portray the result as an expression of opposition to the struggle against Islamist terrorism. It was not. Virtually all those who voted against Lieberman, and many, probably most, of those who voted for him, oppose the Iraq war, as does a solid majority—sixty per cent, according to a CNN poll released last Wednesday—of the American public. But they oppose it because, among other reasons, they believe that it has harmed, not helped, that larger struggle.
While Lebanon is now trying to pick up the pieces, Iraq is falling apart at an accelerating pace.
As Americans debate where to go from here on Iraq, one thing should be clear. Staying the course until President Bush leaves office 29 months from now is not an option. It is no longer even clear just what course America is on. Most of what Washington now claims to be doing cannot withstand the most elementary reality test.
Just this week, Mr. Bush defined America’s purpose as supporting an inclusive national unity government. Every day, it becomes increasingly clear that there is no such unity government, that there never has been and that the various branches of the Iraqi leadership are not trying to create one. . . .Things in Iraq are not going to get better by themselves. The answer is not blind perseverance in staying a course that has demonstrably failed.