One of the many reasons that Bush didn't declare victory this week is that the fate of Iraq has now moved from the realm of high-tech weaponry to the realm of politics. Politics, if less bloody, are messier.
While on the Lincoln, Bush promised that the "coalition will stay until our work is done" -- a pledge that invites cynics to scoff at Dubya's post-9/11 about-face on "nation building."
I wonder if critics understand how difficult that shift will be for Bush and America. Iraqi snipers will continue to attack U.S. troops. Iraqis will protest continued U.S. presence. The oh-so-American response to similar messes has been to question whether the local people are worth American lives, then bolt before U.S. troops are engulfed in a foreign quagmire.
Bush understands that America's enemies are men who harbor grudges for actions that took place before they were born. Of course, such men have nothing but contempt for America's attention-deficit disorder foreign policy, with its cornerstones of quick wars and minimal casualties.
Bush had better improve the economy. Because if he loses in 2004, chances are the next president will return to the old shoot-and-run foreign policy. Bush better see to the creation of American jobs if he wants to convince the outside world that America will stick with a job until it's done.
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