Tacitus's and Bird Dog's reservations regarding our "strategy" in Fallujah are echoed by the outgoing U.S. Marine Corps general in charge of western Iraq:
"When you order elements of a Marine division to attack a city, you really need to understand what the consequences of that are going to be and not perhaps vacillate in the middle of something like that," he said. "Once you commit, you got to stay committed."
Do not start unless you intend to finish; do not stop until you win or are decisively defeated; do not engage unless you want it as much as the other guy. We lost our nerve a long time ago on Iraq. Looking back, perhaps we never had the nerve. After all, an administration serious about success -- an administration willing to lead, and to sacrifice for victory -- does not suggest that the route will be easy. Nor does it cut taxes and increase discretionary spending during wartime.
I supported a war in Iraq. I did not support another Vietnam. Maybe this was always a fantasy; maybe no matter how many lives and how much lucre we sacrifriced, the mission was impossible. Once I didn't think so: "Put more boots on the ground [I argued], continue to pay Iraqi soldiers to keep them home, and focus on protecting and repairing infrastructure." I'm no longer sure even that would have been enough. Maybe it wasn't just poor execution by the Bush Administration; maybe it was the wrong plan. (Maybe I was wrong all along. . . .)
We'll never know. (Who lost Vietnam?) Through, and then out. Quickly.
UPDATE: So it's clear, I don't favor immediate withdrawal from Iraq. I certainly don't favor withdrawal on any sort of pre-assumed timeline (e.g., Kerry's, within four years.) Having half-assedly committed, we must soldier on and hope for the best. But have no illusions: We have not won, and we may not win. And losing Iraq would be worse -- far, far worse -- than never attacking in the first place.