A wise young thing writes provocatively. He wants to know when the serious right wing in America — National Review, and critical legislators and commentators — is going to come out and say what he thinks, that we were wrong to go into Iraq. At a dinner meeting in New York last week of fourteen urbane and weighty conservatives, the host asked the question, How many of you would have voted to go into Iraq if circumstances were as advertised? The vote in favor of intervention was unanimous. The next question was, “Given what we now know, are you glad that we intervened?” The vote here was pretty well split, in the neighborhood of 50-50. My young correspondent puts it this way, “I rue my earlier support for the invasion.” And goes on to ask, “When will we hear on the question from you — from senior U.S. analysts on the conservative side of the fence?”
He is pretty withering in his language. He writes about National Review: “To the extent that one can discern NR’s position, it is something like ‘Bush should keep doing whatever it is that he’s been doing so far and hope for the best.’ But for how long? At what point can we call the Iraq venture a success (or a failure) and leave, NR doesn’t say. The editors seem to be saying, ‘Get back to us in a month; maybe by then we’ll have made up our minds….
Only Bush, not his critics, can coalesce these considerations. This isn’t merely because he has up-to-date information. It is that the force of the leader is required in order to escape the conundrum with confidence. What my correspondent torments himself with in his sleep — How can we keep it up? The Iraqis have made it impossible to succeed. We accomplish nothing more than a directer display, day by day, of the bootlessness of our venture — only Bush can bestride, as De Gaulle did his own impasse. The force of any argument for disconnection requires the prestige and dominance of the leader. There is no point in arguing for withdrawal, unless Mr. Bush beckons us to do so.
Yes, just in case you didn’t follow WFB’s meandering prose, he just said that conservatives are not to argue that American troops should be withdrawn from Iraq, now or in the future, until the Dear Leader gives them permission.