William F. Buckley, not known as a flame-throwing lefty, pinko, tree-hugging kind of guy, has stated the obvious: "One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed."
Buckley presses on with inexorable logic: "Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols."
On the other hand, we have National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley yesterday expounding on how well everything is going in Iraq. Appearing on many of the Sunday TV talk shows, Hadley delivered the Bush message yet again: "It is a time of testing for Iraqis... They've stared into the abyss a bit, and I think they've all concluded that further violence, further tension between the communities, is not in their interest."
On the same Fox News website page reporting on Hadley's remarks, we have three headlines:
"Baghdad Curfew Continues as Violence Persists"
"Sectarian Attacks Surge Despite Curfew in Iraq"
"14 Commandos Bodies Found"
Hadley's casual rumination that the Iraqis have "stared into the abyss a bit" reminds me of the story of the guy who has jumped off the Empire State building and being asked, as he plummets to the ground, "How are things going?," he answers: "So far, so good." I am surprised Hadley didn't say, "We are moving forward."
In William F. Buckley's eyes, two basic postulates about Iraq, put forward by the Bush government, have gone wrong, and Hadley is perfect example of blind adherence to these. The first failed premise, says Buckley, is that "from the beginning, ... the Iraqi people, whatever their tribal differences, would suspend internal divisions in order to get on with life in a political structure that guaranteed them religious freedom." The second Bush "postulate" says "that the invading American army would succeed in training Iraqi soldiers and policymakers to cope with insurgents bent on violence."
While Buckley is unapologetic about Bush's overall foreign policy, he concludes that Iraq is a "defeat" the President must swallow. He claims that Bush can do so without bringing ruin to the rest of his efforts in the world.
Yet on February 24, at a press briefing at the White House, Hadley said this in response to a question about Iraq:
"Obviously, the destruction of the Golden Mosque, and then the subsequent attacks on Sunni religious sites is very troubling. And the President has been very strong in condemning it. It's a testing time. It's a difficult thing that Iraq is trying to do, to go from 30 to 40 years of tyranny, where sectarian groups were largely repressed and oppressed, to those groups now to try and establish an inclusive democracy, where they all can live comfortably in a unified state."
During those years Hadley talks about, Saddam Hussein killed Kurds and Shiites precisely because of their sectarian identity. And yet, Hadley holds firm to his hope that these sectarian groups, in response to American liberation, would want or be able to create an "inclusive democracy" in a comfortable "unified state." This is the kind of delusional thinking that has formed the basis of the failed Bush policy and which is bankrupting the American people.
Staring into the abyss, Hadley continues to say "so far, so good," while William F. Buckley says it is time to cut our losses.