The enormous cost of the full blown battle to a stalemate - aka the war in Iraq - is still being calculated, and sadly will continue to be tallied for years to come. A very comprehensive account of the pure symphony of bad decisions of the Bush administration was just presented on the PBS news show "Frontline" on Monday and Tuesday. Though if you have been only a tiny bit alert, you'll recall most of these very public fumbles of foreign policy. (And you can watch the 4 and a half hours of the program here online.)
Like many other Americans, I never thought moving into military action against Iraq, especially the way the Bush administration handled it, was good or just or intelligent. I write this today not to indict anyone, but to offer some hopefulness that the true nature of American ideals will emerge and correct our passage. I admit that I have grave doubts of such wisdom emerging. Perhaps, at best, we will simply reach the end of an era of failures.
We have witnessed years of consistently poor leadership, marked by emotional infighting and herky-jerky policies and strategies, which have left the nation in a war-ravaged mess. The cold reality with us today is that we remain years away from a clear resolution to the war. Pulling out now is no solution, continuing with current strategies (or the lack of them) is likewise no solution.
I am not one of those people who see the President as the sole motivator and source of all things good and bad in America. But to deny a constant pattern of failed and foolish decisions which had dire consequences is to ignore what history will soon confirm. His appointed leaders of so many agencies - from the Justice Dept. to FEMA - have left wide-ranging wreckage. His administration has demanded revisions to our notions of liberty with no sign of improvement. Far from it.
Not long after taking office, President Bush was quoted as saying that he and the Congress should strive to earn "from our fellow citizens the highest possible praise: Well done, good and faithful servants.". There's no doubt that whatever else is said, few will use such words to describe the last eight years of leadership.