President Bush makes no secret of his distaste for looking backward, for assessing past results.
Any meaningful assessment of the president‘s next step in Iraq must consider his steps and missteps so far.
So, let‘s look at the record. Before Mr. Bush was elected he said he was no nation builder. Nation building was wrong for America. Now he says it is vital for America. He said he would never have put U.S. troops under foreign control. Today U.S. troops observe Iraqi restrictions.
He told us about WMDs, mobile labs, secret sources, aluminum tubing, yellow cake. He has told us the war is necessary because Saddam was a threat, because of 9/11, because of Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, because of terrorism in general, to liberate Iraq, to spread freedom, to spread democracy, to keep the oil out of the hands of potentially terrorist controlled states, because this was a guy who tried to kill his dad.
In pushing for and prosecuting this war, he passed on chances to get Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Moqtada al Sadr, Osama bin Laden. He sent in fewer troops than recommended. He disbanded the Iraqi army and deBaathified the government. He short changed Iraqi training. He did not plan for widespread looting, nor the explosion of sectarian violence. He sent in troops without life saving equipment, gave job to foreign contractors and not the Iraqis, staffed U.S. positions in Iraq based on partisanship, not professional experience.
We learned that America had prevailed, mission accomplished, the resistance was in its last throws. He has said that more troops were not necessary and more troops are necessary, and that it‘s up to the generals, and then removed some of the generals who said more troops would be necessary.
He told us of turning points, the fall of Baghdad, the death of Uday and Qusay, the capture of Saddam, a provisional government, the trial of Saddam, a charter, a constitution, an Iraqi government, elections, purple fingers, a new government, the death of Saddam. We would be greeted as liberators with flowers, as they stood up, we would stand down. We would stay the course. We would never stay the course. The enemy was al Qaeda, was foreigners, was terrorists, was Baathists.
The war would pay for itself. It was cost 1.7 billion dollars, 100 billion, 400 billion, half a trillion dollars. And after all of that, today it is his credibility versus that of generals, diplomats, allies, Republicans, Democrats, the Iraq Study Group, past presidents, voters last November, and the majority of the American people.