Wednesday, June 02, 2004

Throughout history, far more battles have been lost by a failure of nerve than have been won by military genius. Today, the greatest danger to American efforts in Iraq remains the collapse of our will...

In the last few weeks, group-think — or group hysteria — has overtaken the pundits. Lunatic proposals have been advanced to end an imagined debacle in Iraq. One strategic genius suggested that we need to allow the Iraqis to defeat us so they can take pride in themselves again. Other voices have called for an immediate withdrawal of American troops, despite the awful consequences such cowardice would bring.

Yet we are a long way from failure in Iraq. Helping a broken country reconstruct itself is very hard work. Setbacks are inevitable. Instead of predicting doom whenever we stub a toe, we should be surprised at how well so much is going.

Iraq is stumbling forward — not backward, forward.

Baghdad will soon have its own nascent government — and it's not necessarily a bad thing that we didn't get our way in choosing its leaders. We're in danger of becoming an overly protective parent. We need to let the kid ride the damned bike and fall down a couple of times.
The insurgents continue to fail everywhere but in Fallujah. Kurdistan is free and prospering. Iraq's key factions are talking instead of shooting.

The economy is on the move.

Development lurches ahead, despite terror attacks.

And the people have already shown far more political maturity than Europeans did in the 20th century.

The time will come for us to leave Iraq. But it's not here yet. Leaving prematurely would undo much, if not all, of the good that has been accomplished, while making a mockery of our soldiers' sacrifices.

Sometimes you win just by staying in the game — or fail by losing heart and leaving the table.

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