Where we failed in Iraq:

1. We vastly underrated the task before us in 2002 and 2003.

2. We were very slow in adapting to reality and changing tactics.

3. We are three-and-one-half years into a war, and our government is pleading for us (the American people) to have faith in their ability to get it right--without giving us a lot of foundation for the leap they are asking us to make. The problem is not that the President is changing tactics. The problem is timing.

Three-and-one-half years is as much time as you can expect the American people to advance you in a war. If the war was unwinnable in that stretch of time, then it was a foolish undertaking. If the war was winnable in that span of time, then it has been foolishly prosecuted. Either way. The clock is running out.

4. Granted we may finally have it right (or we may be on the verge of having it right), but the administration is down to almost no credibility with the majority of America.

Why must American presidents win wars quickly?

Because Osama is right. Defeating the United States is a matter of endurance and ruthlessness.

The Wizbang essay again (the lesson of Vietnam):

"The North Vietnamese knew they could never defeat the US in a face-to-face battle; every time they tried, they lost and lost decisively. They had no chance of attacking our ability to wage war; our industrial base was thousands of miles out of their reach. So they, instead, attacked our resolve. That was a key factor that led to our eventual withdrawal from Viet Nam, followed shortly thereafter by the abrogation of the peace treaty and the final conquest of the South."

By the way, that was essentially the strategy of George Washington in the American War for Independence. Washington understood that if he never lost his army, the British could not win the war. And if the British could not win, they would eventually lose.

They did. They grew frustrated with a seemingly endless and immensely costly war to achieve a goal that increasingly appeared less than a vital interest. They eventually threw in the towel.

For what it is worth, the Revolutionary War was America's longest war that we actually won. Vietnam was longer--but we lost that one. It is important to point out that the Revolutionary War was fought prior to Constitutional government. There was no president and no midterm elections.

Generally, Americans need to strike and win quickly. We have had long wars (the Civil War and WWII to name two), but in both cases we made progress at crucial times. We were on the way to beating back Japan in the Pacific by the summer of 1942. We had air supremacy over Europe by 1943. Americans could see the light at the end of the tunnel. The fall of Atlanta came at a fortuitous time for Abraham Lincoln in the months prior to his bid for reelection in 1864. The Philippine War was long and bloody (about the same duration as our current war), but the victory was in hand by the time the war became a matter of intense public debate.

This war is too long. No one (not even the President or his closest supporters) sees a light at the end of this tunnel. We are in trouble--not because we cannot beat the insurgency at some point given enough time. We are in trouble because time is running out for us politically.

This is not to say that we cannot save ourselves and the Iraqis (and the world), but we need to move quickly, act in a united way and get a little lucky.

Note: the Wizbang essay referred to above is cited in Part I (below); it is "A few random thoughts about the war in Iraq, and warfare in general."