I don't know if the war in Iraq is ultimately unwinnable, but what I do know makes me skeptical of those who say so.
I do know that since Vietnam, liberals have viewed every exercise of American military power (with the exception of those undertaken by Bill Clinton) as preludes to disaster. The very first question Ronald Reagan was asked at his first presidential press conference concerned El Salvador. The question: Did he think it was going to turn into another Vietnam? Democrats invoked Vietnam with every other sentence during the long and nasty controversy about aiding the resistance in Nicaragua. More recently, just days into the Afghanistan war, The New York Times ran a front-page lament calling that conflict a new "quagmire."
Liberals seem always to believe that America will lose its wars, and when it doesn't, that it should.
It is obviously deeply painful to contemplate the more than 2,000 American dead, and many others gravely injured in Iraq. And charities like Fisher House (www.fisherhouse.org) welcome concrete demonstrations of Americans' concern for military families. But one does not sense that members of the military share the belief so widespread in the press and Congress that the Iraq war is going very badly and that the original decision to fight was a mistake.
One Marine, Sgt. Todd Bowers, who did two tours in Iraq, described the attitude of many press types. "They didn't want to talk to us." Why? I asked. "Because we were gung-ho for the mission." Bowers, who was saved from grievous injury when a bullet lodged in the sight of his rifle (a sight his father had purchased for him), is chary about the press.
In his first tour, he noticed that members of the press were reluctant to photograph Iraqis laughing, giving the thumbs up sign, or cheering. Yet Bowers saw plenty that would have made fine snapshots. In Baghdad, Al Kut and Al-Nasiriyah, Bowers reported no signs of anti-American feeling at all among Iraqis.