Exiting Iraq: The Least Undesirable End

When a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer, it is tempting but not useful to harangue him on the evils of his three-pack-a-day habit.  But when he refuses to kick that habit, or to accept its link with the disease, or even to acknowledge the seriousness of his condition, it is reasonable to assume that his hold on reality is tenuous, his moral fiber is weak, and his chances of recovery are slim.

President George W. Bush is guilty on all counts.  Before we look for a solution to the nightmare in Iraq, it is therefore necessary to recapitulate three key facts.

As we had warned on the eve of the war, the invasion had been planned well before September 11, for reasons different from those proclaimed, and the “War on Terror” was mendaciously used as an expedient context for the premeditated war.  Four years later, the exact intentions of different actors (Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith) may be in doubt, but the facts are not.

The improvised and ever-shifting political objective, stated in different ways at different times—to make Iraq democratic, friendly to the United States, staunch in the War on Terror, stable, independent, and unified—had been unattainable ab initio and remains so today.

In geopolitical terms, the main beneficiary of the war is Iran.  The United States removed Iran’s archenemy, Saddam Hussein,...

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