Bruce Bartlett (TimesDelete) notes a major difference between Iraq and Vietam. In Vietnam, conservatives generally supported Nixon until the bitter end. In Iraq, many conservatives bailed very quickly, once the shambolic war-management of Bush, Rumsfeld and Cheney came to light. Among these conservatives are some major figures. William F Buckley Jr, in June 2004, wrote, "If I knew then what I know now about what kind of situation we would be in, I would have opposed the war." Newt Gingrich in April 2006 said "it was an enormous mistake for us to try to occupy that country after June of 2003. We have to pull back and we have to recognize it." Earlier this year, Ken Adelman, David Frum and Richard Perle all excoriated the Bush administration's war-management. Milton Friedman opposed it from the start. General William Odom refuses to buy the latest snake-oil from Dr Cheney. On the crunchy con wing, we have Rod Dreher. Derb has described the war as a "gross error."
Brooks is now in favor of soft partition; Krauthammer sees the Maliki government as a joke (the government which is the basis for the "surge"); Peggy Noonan was for the surge until she heard president Bush's speech in favor of it; George Will has been witheringly shrewd from the get-go. In the Congress, Hagel, McCain, Specter, and Warner have all essentially voted yes in a motion of "no confidence." I could go on. Those of us who jumped off this bus in 2003 have found ourselves in an increasingly crowded wilderness. Our job now is to think creatively and strategically about how best to manage the failure in Iraq for our long-term advantage, at minimal moral cost. That is the current conservative challenge. Everything else is spin.