Can America pull out of Iraq?

Anyone seeking to understand what has become the central conundrum of the Iraq war—how it is that so many highly accomplished, experienced, and intelligent officials came together to make such monumental, consequential, and, above all, obvious mistakes, mistakes that much of the government knew very well at the time were mistakes—must see beyond what seems to be a simple rhetoric of self-justification and follow it where it leads: toward the War of Imagination that senior officials decided to fight in the spring and summer of 2002 and to whose image they clung long after reality had taken a sharply separate turn. In that War of Imagination victory was to be decisive, overwhelming, evincing a terrible power—enough to wipe out the disgrace of September 11 and remake the threatening world. 

This is a key extract a New York Review Books essay which Mark Danner has written in the course of reviewing three recently published books about the Bush administration’s handling of the war in Iraq, State of Denial: Bush at War, Part III by Bob Woodward (Simon and Schuster, 560 pp), The One Percent Doctrine: Deep Inside America’s Pursuit of Its Enemies Since 9/11 by Ron Suskind (Simon and Schuster, 367 pp), and State of War: The Secret History of the CIA and the Bush Administration by James Risen (Free Press, 240 pp). 

If you have not got the time to read the books in question – and, to be honest, I for one don’t – then Danner’s essay reveals much of what they have to say, and moreover it helps to explain why America, now that it is mired in Iraq, is going to find it very difficult to make a exit that will not leave it with thorny problems for years to come.

Bush may be unwilling to leave Iraq because he  recognizes that to do so would be to admit defeat, and he is too proud –or bullheaded – to admit that. The problem he has given America is this: if he does admit defeat, will those on whom he declared war in the first place be willing to forgive America for his perceived arrogance?   _____________________________________________________

Thanks to John Naughton (see Blogroll right) for having posted the link which drew my attention to this essay in the first place.


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