Friday, March 30, 2007

Long-Term Worldview

I've often discussed the difference between people's attitudes before we entered Iraq and now. Before we entered Iraq, people recognized that the process would be long; it would be hard; and it would take great determination and patience to get done properly. James Taranto cited this perfectly yesterday:
On Dec. 20, 2002, Sens. Joe Biden of Delaware and Chuck Hagel of Nebraska shared a byline on a Washington Post op-ed titled "Iraq: The Decade After." Biden and Hagel, both of whom had voted two months earlier to go to war with Saddam Hussein's regime, warned that it would not be an easy undertaking and that America had to be prepared for a long-term commitment:

Although no one doubts our forces will prevail over Saddam Hussein's, key regional leaders confirm what the Foreign Relations Committee emphasized in its Iraq hearings last summer: The most challenging phase will likely be the day after--or, more accurately, the decade after--Saddam Hussein. Once he is gone, expectations are high that coalition forces will remain in large numbers to stabilize Iraq and support a civilian administration. That presence will be necessary for several years, given the vacuum there, which a divided Iraqi opposition will have trouble filling and which some new Iraqi military strongman must not fill. . . . Americans are largely unprepared for such an undertaking. President Bush must make clear to the American people the scale of the commitment.

Today President Bush remains committed, while Biden and Hagel are among the leaders of the effort to retreat. Their "decade" turned out to last barely four years.
How quickly we've forgotten, and how easy is it for any foe to simply wait us out, knowing we can't stomach any drawn-out battle, particularly in this incredible information age.