So press conference:

“We began the year with optimism after watching nearly 12 million Iraqis go to the polls to vote for a unity government and a free future. The enemies of liberty responded fiercely to this advance of freedom.”

We’re in Iraq to build a democracy.

“And I want the enemy to understand that this is a tough task, but they can’t run us out of the Middle East; that they can’t intimidate America.”


No, we’re in Iraq to find a permanent base for US military forces in the Middle East or, at a minimum, to demonstrate resolve detached from specific policy goals.

“What is going to happen is we’re going to develop a strategy that helps the Iraqis achieve the objective that the 12 million people want them to achieve, which is a government that can — a country that can sustain itself, govern itself, defend itself.”

No, we’re in Iraq to build a internally stable government.

“A free country that will serve as an ally in this war against extremists and radicals.”

No, we’re in Iraq to create a government that will take America’s side in regional disputes.

Needless to say these are different and, in some ways, contradictory goals. This is why we’re not winning in Iraq and never will. We don’t have coherent objectives we’re pursuing. And there is no set of objectives such that the objectives are both achievable and worth the cost of achieving them. The sane thing to do at this point is to set a goal of removing American troops from the killing zone quickly and then to start thinking and arguing about how, exactly, this can be done in a way that minimizes risks to the troops and the rest of the region.