More of these progress reports are needed, and the president should make opportunities to deliver them. Much of the major media have accentuated the negative, ignoring the many positives that are taking place in Iraq.
Administration critics are likely to seize on remarks by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who recently visited Iraq. Rumsfeld admitted that the United States may have paved the way for recent attacks on American and British soldiers by failing to destroy Saddam Hussein's forces in their northern strongholds. Rumsfeld conceded that in pre-war planning, efforts were made to avoid repeating the humanitarian and environmental disasters that occurred during the 1991 Gulf War. While those disasters did not occur this time, the Pentagon failed to plan for an outbreak of criminality and for internally displaced people, including Saddam's release of 100,000 criminals. Still, not every possibility can be addressed in warfare, and if the environmental and refugee problems had developed in this war, critics would be faulting the administration for its failure to be on top of them.
Terrorists know they cannot win a conventional war against a behemoth power like the United States. But they also know the United States might lose heart and cut and run. It has happened before - in Vietnam and Lebanon and Mogadishu. That is what they are counting on. The president's speech gives them no reason to expect retreat. America's enemies will be watching the polls to see if citizen resolve matches that of the president.