The Real Boneless Wonder


A reader writes:

I'm strongly anti-war, but I still wish Petraeus true success, sincerely - because I presume that the key existential goal now is to "pacify" a spot of active, pure hell on earth that we are partially responsible for. That pacification may include using deadly force and would be morally justified on just war grounds. The situation now is one in which not to act at all is immoral - but, it may be just as moral and practical to withdraw and let them face each other (Shia, Sunni, others) and make their own existential decision without us as an excuse anymore.

As the one writer said of the unjust war: we were not willing to fight to pacify, to occupy, to take control. We set this up for disaster and watched it. It will be written in history books: When Moqtata al-Sadr emerged early on, why was he not arrested soon (under rules of martial law; but handled humanely) by the new occupying force, detained as a potential terrorist and inciter to violence against other Iraqis? People often compare Japan to Iraq. Would MacArthur have tolerated someone like al-Sadr at large to pursue his course during the occupation?

Why did we not prosecute our victory and power? Why were we so cowardly or unwise or both to let him (and others like him) stand us down? These guys think GHW Bush failed to follow through. But the first Bush saw what follow-through would entail and did not start down that path. These guys did so and then surrendered the position.

In my view, history will show that this president never seriously prosecuted this war, never took his responsibility seriously, never provided sufficient resources, never even gave it his full attention. That became clear to me in 2003. I didn't get it beforehand because I just assumed that any American president would understand the gravity of the decisions he was taking and would ensure that he took all means to guarantee victory. But this president didn't. He ran this war like a distracted frat boy, irritated by the distractions it required, and outsourced its execution to two unhinged aides. In other words: he wimped out. Bill Kristol has the gall to call critics of the surge "boneless wonders.' But there is only one truly boneless wonder these past four years, and he is still sitting in the White House.

(Photo: Tim Sloan/AFP/Getty.)