Donald Lambro

But the White House's recent initiatives, together with Bush's admission of impatience with the Iraqis, may change the political debate, if only on the margins. It assures voters of the administration's flexibility as it threads its way through the war's thorny complexities, moving toward a strategy that will more quickly shift the war's burden onto Iraqi shoulders and thus to a partial U.S. exit.

This is a war that will likely last a long time (the IRA conflict in Northern Ireland lasted 37 years), but the brunt of it must be born by the Iraqis, with U.S. troop training, air power support when needed and an inexhaustible supply of weaponry and logistical support to defeat the terrorists in their midst.

Many Americans want us out of Iraq now, but most want us to leave in a way that gives the Iraqis a chance to defend themselves and their young democracy.

They showed us that's what they want when, despite terrorist threats of death, they turned out by the millions to approve a Constitution and elect a representative government.

More than 2,800 brave Americans -- and tens of thousands of Iraqis -- gave their lives to this cause and this war against terrorism. Our impatience is understandable. But leaving before the Iraqis can fight this war on their own so they can remain a free and sovereign nation allied with the United States, would mean that our best and brightest have died in vain.

The terrorists will not go away if we leave now. They will resume their deadly plots on the U.S. once again. This is no time to sound the call for retreat.

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.