Yes, the president said he didn't anticipate that our incredible military success would result in the religious fanatics collapsing into the cities and then mounting a second phase of resistance. But as I read it, he's also saying that no one could have anticipated this unfolding of events. And indeed, no one could have.
Even if we had anticipated that international terrorists and local religious fanatics would try to disrupt our effort to rebuild and democratize Iraq, what could we have done to avoid it?
The assumption seems to be that we could have avoided American casualties if we'd better planned. But we've been engaged in this second phase for over a year now, and we're still sustaining casualties. Doesn't that alone tell you that we couldn't have avoided all casualties no matter how well we planned?
Our armchair quarterbacks constantly hold our intelligence agencies and our military to impossibly high standards. No matter how much we always want to blame ourselves, we are not going to be able to prevent all terrorist attacks or all war casualties. We are up against an enemy with no conscience, which targets civilians, uses civilians and Mosques as shields, and engages in urban guerrilla warfare. No matter how prescient our planning, we still would have had to face the same enemy using the same tactics.
If, as a people, we don't have the stomach to endure the inevitable difficulties we've faced in Iraq, how will we have the will to endure the war on terror over the long haul? We've got to quit beating ourselves up and re-orient ourselves to the difficulties of war.
In the meantime, let's reject the media line that Iraq is an asterisk on President Bush's foreign policy resume and cut him a little slack.