Are we really forcing our troops to fight with one hand tied behind their backs? If so, why? Is it because the administration believes that unleashing our forces will militate against Iraqi sovereignty? Even if so, isn't it time we reconsider the opportunity cost of such deference: that this war is dragging on longer than the American public is willing to tolerate?
Also, does the administration believe Iran and Syria are behind much of the terrorism and ethnic violence in Iraq? If so, how can we afford not to attack these "problems" directly? Or are we already?
Further, it might be helpful if the administration gave us a clearer picture of our desired end-game in Iraq. Isn't it true that we don't have to achieve anything close to a violence-free zone in Iraq in order to accomplish our mission and leave? Shouldn't our goal merely be to train the Iraqi troops to the point that they can furnish stability for a government -- preferably democratic -- that is friendly to the United States and that will not allow itself to be a safe haven or training ground for international terrorism?
I happen to be among the apparent minority of people who still have confidence in President Bush and what he's trying to accomplish in Iraq. But unless he answers some of these questions, and others, it's doubtful that the American people's understanding of the situation will improve and their support for the mission will be rekindled.
To be sure, no matter what he says on the subject, Democrats will try to distort it and some Republicans will attack it, claiming superior knowledge to the generals in the field and superior wisdom to the politicians off the field. But the president won't have a fighting chance to sustain this battle if he doesn't do a better job of getting his message across.
This is not only necessary to advance the cause in Iraq and the war on terror, but to enable us to focus meaningfully on the other important issues facing our nation, none of which we can afford to place indefinitely on hold during this phase of the war. Not coincidentally, addressing the elephant in the room is also necessary to a much-needed resurgence of the GOP.