By: E&P Staff
It’s come to this for President Bush: Even Peggy Noonan has turned against him on the war, and in a withering fashion.
Noonan, one of the strongest advocates of the war for years, offered a frank attack on the president’s current strategy in the Wall Street Journal. It’s available in full at Opinion Journal online, but here is how it opens.
I had the odd and wholly unexpected experience of feeling supportive of a troop increase until I saw the president’s speech arguing for it. What a jarring, furtive-seeming thing it was.
Surely the Iraq endeavor and those who’ve fought in it and put their hopes in it deserve more than collapse, withdrawal and calamity. But . . . 20,000 more troops, who’ll start to arrive over the next few months, and we’ll press the Iraqi government to be tougher? A young journalist who is generally supportive of the president said, “So this is it? The grand strategy is to repeat a strategy they weren’t able to execute the first time they tried it?”
What a dreadful mistake the president made when he stiff-armed the Iraq Study Group report, which had bipartisan membership, an air of mutual party investment, the imprimatur of what remains of or is understood as the American establishment, and was inherently moderate in its proposals: move diplomatically, adjust the way we pursue the mission, realize abrupt withdrawal would yield chaos. There were enough good ideas, anodyne suggestions and blurry recommendations (blurriness is not always bad in foreign affairs–confusion can buy time!) that I thought the administration would see it as a life raft.
Instead they pushed it away. Like the old woman in the flood who took to the roof and implored God to send a boat to save her. A hunk of wood floated by as she prayed with fervor. A busted wooden door floated by as the waters rose and she doubled her prayers. Finally she cried “God, I asked you to save me and you didn’t send a boat!” And the voice of God answered: “I sent you a hunk of wood and a door!”
We don’t always recognize deliverance when it arrives.