We are probably, therefore, entering a period in which the real debate will be over whether to adopt "compromise" policies that, in the long run, favor Bush's insistence on "victory," or some alternative closer to the proposals for a withdrawal (however much these may be sugar-coated as demands for "redeployment"). To prevail, Bush will certainly have to come up with some modifications, probably both diplomatic and military, in his strategy; we now know that even former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld conceded, in a recent memo, that the current strategy isn't working. But various Democratic leaders, as they struggle to come up with an acceptable alternative, will no doubt favor a spectrum of positions, some much closer to Bush's than others.
As for the American people as a whole, they will probably continue to issue contradictory signals about their desires, and reserve the right to change their minds (without admitting it) if what they support today turns out to be unpalatable tomorrow.
It may well be, therefore, that the debate will grind on until whatever "compromise" measures we adopt have their inevitable effect -- whatever that may be -- on the situation on the ground, and the power to make the ultimate decision, to stay or leave, slips out of our hands. If we can't make up our minds, Fate will make the decision for us.
William Rusher is a Distinguished Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and author of How to Win Arguments .
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