Doubt. At the moment, this is the most feared word in the Republican vocabulary.
Doubt about the outcome of the elections in November. Doubt about the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. And, most troubling of all, doubt about the wisdom of invading Iraq.
What I am hearing with growing frequency from my fellow Republicans is, "What if we made a horrible mistake in invading Iraq? What if history records it as a colossal miscalculation?"
GOP strategy going into the midterm elections is to play down Iraq while re-emphasizing the threat of terrorism. Such thinking is both predictable and risky.
With the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks just past, the American people and media have grown dangerously complacent with regard to terrorism and threats to the homeland, no longer giving them the personal or political attention they merit. More worrisome to the Republican Party is the danger that a significant number of voters may look at this strategy and decide the GOP is playing crass partisan politics with a sacred and untouchable subject.
Since day one, I have publicly and privately supported this president's decision to take on Saddam Hussein. No matter the rationale for being there, to leave by a certain date not only would embolden our enemies, but it also would ring the death knell for any possible chance for democracy in the region. Leaving aside revisionist history, the fact is that before the invasion of Iraq, every major intelligence agency in the world, as well as the Clinton administration, believed that Mr. Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction. That being the case, it would have been irresponsible of any president not to take unilateral action to prevent such weapons from ending up in the hands of terrorists.
Still, the one question many had at the time was, "Do we have to invade now?"
Doubt. Did we invade Iraq at the right moment, or could we have waited two, four, eight or even 18 months before sending our troops into harm's way? Months in which our intelligence agencies and special ops teams could have worked behind the scenes to destabilize or topple Saddam Hussein?
Doubt. Did the president truly get the best information from the Pentagon and others before deciding to invade? Did Pentagon senior officials with no military service - men such as Paul Wolfowitz, Douglas Feith and Stephen Cambone - make cavalier and costly decisions regarding predictions of victory and little resistance because they had no combat experience and were ensconced safely behind desks?