Rich Lowry

Another hot bipartisan idea is to threaten the Iraqi government with our imminent departure to pressure it to perform. But the Iraqis don't need a demarche telling them we might leave, since it is obvious. The whiff of American retreat isn't improving conditions on the ground, but worsening them as everyone prepares for what will be the full-blown civil war in our absence.

The way to improve security in the near term is to increase the only force in the country that is even-handed and competent -- America's. It has been obvious for a long time that Iraq needs more U.S. forces, but Bush has never ordered it, because he has been determined to defer to his generals no matter what. Unfortunately, the best generals can be wrong.

Bush simply has failed to run his war. Historian Eliot Cohen describes how, in contrast, the best American wartime president conducted himself: "Lincoln had not merely to select his generals, but to educate, train and guide them. To this end he believed that he had to master the details of war, from the technology to the organization and movement of armies, if only to enable himself to make informed judgments about general officers."

Bush has taken the opposite approach and -- for all his swagger and protectiveness of executive prerogatives -- is becoming a disturbing study in lassitude in the executive branch.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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