The Big Question, Ctd.

A reader writes:

A better question would be:

"How have occupying armies been successful in extricating themselves from a recently defeated country without becoming engaged in either a prolonged occupation or insurgency, while still achieving the national objectives for the war?"

If that question had been asked, answered, and heeded before the war, then we would be in a better position today. Unfortunately from what we are told in the press, my question was asked, answered and ignored.

I think the key issue in Iraq was actually the WMDs. Without them, the key rationale for the war - both for us, the world at large, and to the Iraqis - changed from self-defense to something far more nebulous. Democratic change was one reason for the war but it was never the sole reason, and if it had been the sole reason, there would never have been domestic support for it (especially among conservatives). But when it became apparent that the WMDs were not there, the war's rationale became willy nilly a nation-building project which the president simply refused to commit sufficient resources or knowledge to. To make matters even worse, the defense secretary never believed such a project should be part of the military's purpose - and refused to let any other wing of the government take responsibility either. And so we entered a no-man's land in which we are still staggering.