Pat Buchanan

They are throwing up questions, asking advice, pleading for ideas, begging for answers. Even the U.S. joint chiefs of staff have joined in the hunt.

"One component of the larger (review) effort is likely to be a military review initiated in mid-September by Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the joint chiefs of staff," writes Wright. "His assessment of anti-terrorism efforts, with a core focus on Iraq, includes 16 top commanders meeting daily to brainstorm on questions such as: 'Where are we going? What are we trying to do? Are we going to get there this way?'"

Is this not disconcerting? The most experienced warriors of the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines are sitting around every day, asking one another: "Where are we going? What we are we trying to do?"

Can one imagine Douglas MacArthur, Chester Nimitz, "Bull" Halsey and Curtis LeMay sitting around day after day in Honolulu, asking each other: "Where are we going? What are we trying to do?"

A senior defense official provided added guidance: "Nothing is off the table. They are looking at the whole spectrum of less forces, more forces."

This remark suggests the U.S. joint chiefs are open to all options, including defeat. For once U.S. forces begin to pull out of a war that is far from being won, we risk losing that war.

Heretofore, President Bush had said America's goal is "victory" and that we will not depart until it is achieved. By victory, he has meant eradication of al-Qaida in Iraq, defeat of the insurgency and an Iraq on America's side in the war on terror.

What these strategic reviews suggest is that not only do our leaders not know how to achieve "victory," they are no longer sure it is worth the cost.

What these strategic reviews also suggest is that George Bush, the defiant leader atop the pile of rubble at the World Trade Center, George Bush "The Decider," George Bush the resolute war chief who will stay the course in Iraq if only Laura and Barney are still with him, has vacated the White House.

In his stead sits a president asking questions, seeking ideas, searching for answers. If the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

Pat Buchanan

Pat Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative magazine, and the author of many books including State of Emergency: The Third World Invasion and Conquest of America .
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