"Bush Iraq Strategy Has No Option for Failure," read the headline on the Washington Post home page when I accessed it at 1:30 this morning. [UPDATE with some thoughts from Captain's Quarters tacked to bottom of post]
But is that just a statement of fact or a lament about a lack of a "failure option" for the war in Iraq itself. Here's the blurb that followed teaser headline:
Eager to appear resolute and reluctant to provide fodder for skeptics,U.S. officials rebuff questions about failure with a mix of optimism and evasion.
And what exactly does the Post find evasive? You need look no further than the first two paragraphs of Karen DeYoung and Thomas Ricks's front page March 5 article to find that it's a determination to win the war in Iraq.:
During a White House meeting last week, a group of governors asked President Bush and Marine Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, about their backup plan for Iraq. What would the administration do if its new strategy didn't work?
The conclusion they took away, the governors later said, was that there is no Plan B. "I'm a Marine," Pace told them, "and Marines don't talk about failure. They talk about victory."
UPDATE (02:13 EST): Just to make it clear, I believe it is a legitimate question to raise if the Bush administration has no plans to continue to review and revise its implemented strategy to adjust to the facts on the ground.
But it seems to me the Post here suggests it's near scandalous that the mentality of the Bush administration, and that of Gen. Pace, is that winning the war in Iraq is NOT an option and that continually centering the discussion on the what-if of failure is a disservice to the successful prosecution of the war.
N.B.: Given that the Post Web site is likely to change -- newspaper front pages are quite fluid -- I snapped some screen captures. I will try to update this post later with one, but I don't have the software here at home to resize the jpg so that it doesn't eat up too much bandwidth. I'll try doing so when I get into the office this morning.
UPDATE II (09:45 EST): Captain Ed blogged about the same article today, it's worth the read. You can find his post here. Here's a clip, portion in bold is my emphasis:
The Pentagon warplans and games strategies and scenarios on a constant basis. They have a number of options on the table; that much was true when Bush decided on the surge. Staff officers and the White House will have them prioritized and ready for implementation when needed.
But that's not really the point of this article. Anyone who understands military operations would know that a multiplicity of alternatives have already been discussed, formulated, and selected. This article is of a piece with the meme of the last couple of years: that Bush could not admit mistakes. It's a transparent catch-22. If the Bush administration refuses to discuss the alternatives, then the media can say they have no fallback plans. If they start discussing the alternatives, their political opponents can use them to insist on transitioning to the fallbacks immediately.