Just How Much Patience Are You Asking For Mr. President ?

On the day that America marked the 4th anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq War, President Bush addressed the nation and asked for patience as he pursues his latest strategy:

President Bush asked skeptical Americans for additional patience as the Iraq war entered its fifth year yesterday, saying that the United States can be victorious, but “only if we have the courage and resolve to see it through.”

In a brief address to the nation four years after he ordered U.S. forces to invade Iraq, Bush also warned the Democratic-led Congress not to pass a measure scheduled for a vote in the House this week that would require troops to withdraw from the conflict.

“It can be tempting to look at the challenges in Iraq and conclude our best option is to pack up and go home,” Bush said in an eight-minute speech from the Roosevelt Room in the White House. “That may be satisfying in the short run, but I believe the consequences for American security would be devastating.”

I’ve written more than once here about my feelings about the Iraq War, but, first, a history lesson.

I will admit that, in the beginning, I supported the invasion of Iraq. Like almost all of America, I bought into the weapons of mass destruction argument — after all, Colin Powell had presented a pretty compelling case in his speech to the U.N. Security Council in February 2003 (little did we know at the time that his speech was based almost entirely on information obtained from an Iraqi defector in German custody that several CIA analysts believed to be suspect). Not only that, there were those compelling-if-unsubstantiated rumors of links between Iraq and the 9/11 conspirators that nobody has ever been able to prove. Add into that the fact that Persian Gulf War I never really ended in a satisfactory manner and the fact that Saddam definately did try to assassinate former President Bush during a visit Kuwait.

By the time President Bush addressed the nation late in the evening on March 19, 2003, the idea of America invading Iraq to topple the Ba`athist regime of Hussein sounded like a pretty good idea to me.

Then reality hit.

Saddam fell quickly, and the image of his statutes falling reminded me of the days when Soviet Communism was collapsing across Eastern Europe. But things fell apart pretty quickly after that, and went downhill from there.

As I’ve written before, what has become exceedingly clear is that there was an incredible, almost inept, lack of planning on the part of those in charge for what would become of the post-Saddam Iraq. The view that ended up dominating the planning (or lack thereof) process was the Paul Wolfkowitz idea that we’d be welcomed as conquering heroes.

When that didn’t happen, and when the rioting started, it seemed like nobody on the ground knew what they were doing.

I’ve written previously, most specifically, here and here about my opinions on the Iraq War, and I’ve debated that issue more that once in several forums. The purpose of this post, however, is to turn the tables and ask a question or two directed to the supporters of the President’s Iraq policies, so here they are:

1. Does the fact that the initial public justification for the Iraq War — the fact of an existing Weapons of Mass Destruction program in Iraq — was quite clearly untrue deminish in any respect your support for the initial invasion or the current Bush policy ? If yes, then explain why.

2. What is your definition of victory in the Iraq War and when do you conceive it would be possible for American forces to begin leaving Iraq ?

Quite honestly, I open this up to anyone willing to participate.