...if Bush does succeed - as seems increasingly plausible - in finally delivering a fragile-but-improving situation in Iraq to his successor, that won't be an achievement that ought to vindicate his initial decision to invade. But provisionally, at least, the way that Bush has unwound himself on Iraq has been more impressive, and provided more grist for a potential rehabilitation, than a simple volte-face would have.
If Bush had taken the Baker-Hamilton Commission's advice, for instance, and the security situation had gradually improved thereafter, the obvious historical narrative would have been that Bush led America into a disaster, and then had to turn things over to the grown-ups and let them lead us out. But by instead choosing a course-correction - the Surge - that had very little institutional support within American political circles, Bush assumed ownership of subsequent events in a way that most politicians seeking to undo their blunders don't have the opportunity to do. And should Iraq reach some sort of democratic stability over the long run, it's very easy to see how Bush's decision to double down rather than pulling out could become one of the high points of a larger narrative that paints him as a visionary.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.