"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in," the president of the United States said Tuesday night (Jan. 23, 2007).
He was talking about the war in Iraq. He was confessing that the fight was not going as well as he had said, some analysts said. There was a sadness about the speech, almost a pleading. Please give the latest Iraq strategy a chance to work. Please work with me.
The smirk was gone, the smirk that George W. Bush wore in the first six years of his presidency, and the time before that as governor of Texas (please see the blog entry We Should Have Known).
The reason was numbers. There were more Democrats than Republicans in the Congress and even some Republicans would be indicating that his last chance for new strategies in Iraq had come and gone.
I remember 1968, when such a time came, during the Vietnam War, to the then-sitting president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.
There a many similarities. They're both from Texas. They both got us into a war on made-up grounds -- the Gulf of Tonkin resolution about a fake attack on a U.S. ship near Vietnam, and the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
There was a lot of talk about dominoes, fight them there or fight them on the streets of Chicago and Des Moines. There was talk about a great generals who knew how to win. That morphed into peace with honor, about never losing a war, about not running from our duty to the regime in power, no matter how ineffectual and corrupt.
The main difference, of course, is in Vietnam, we got in the middle of somebody else's civil war and in Iraq, we created the civil war.
There are also some differences between Bush and Johnson. Johnson escalated somebody else's war. American involvement in Vietnam started slowly under President Eisenhower and picked up some steam under President Kennedy. The Iraq war as all Bush, father and son.
Johnson's part in the war ended with is famous declaration. "Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."
It will not end that way with Bush. The only to halt the constant stream of strategies, followed by a constant stream of dead and wounded Americans, is for Congress, in its new majority, to put a stop to it. That's what the American people want.
If I thought for one moment that this end to the Iraq war would be harmful to Israel, I would oppose an end to our involvement.
The only thing we are ending here is a mistake. Military experts for centuries have warned about armies invading cities and getting lost in them. Those new Americans sent to Baghdad will get lost in it, just as we have become lost in this nightmare of failed strategies.