If Pigs Could Fly

The day after Christmas 2006, the U.S.-military death toll in Iraq overtook and then surpassed the total number of Americans killed on September 11, 2001.  Some Democrats, even before the symbolic number was reached, were calling for a withdrawal, either immediate or gradual, of U.S. forces.  President Bush, although he had abandoned his signature tune “Stay the Course” for p.r. reasons, responded to criticism by promising a troop “surge,” a metaphor apparently drawn from the hurricanes his administration responded to as effectively as it has waged war in Iraq.  Having committed an additional 21,500 troops to the effort, the President continues to insist that, while we are facing “difficult choices and additional sacrifices,” victory is, nonetheless, “achievable.”  What a long way we have come from the bold statements that accompanied his administration’s buildup, throughout 2002, to the invasion of Iraq.  In those exuberant days, President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld sounded like Stuart Tarleton at the Wilkes’ barbecue.  The South could lick the Yankees in a month!  “Gentlemen always fight better than rabble.  A month—why, one battle—”

Throughout 2002, the President and his advisors insisted that they had not made up their minds to go to war, and some Republicans pretended to believe them.  Most...

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