(Here) Mead has several good insights.
I think in some ways, what you see in Iraq is the opposite of Vietnam. That is, in Vietnam, the U.S. side had a great military strategy, but not really a political strategy. So it could win all the battles, but ultimately lost the war. I think what you see in Iraq is that the insurgency has a good military strategy— they have the ability to use force in an asymmetrical way to create noise, kill people, show they’re alive. But they don’t have a political strategy in the sense that every time a bomb goes off, a majority of Iraqis hate them more.
People may have a lot of questions about why we got in [to Iraq], but once in, we have to win. It’s much more difficult to argue that the United States could fail to prevail in Iraq and be happy with that outcome. So the polling I’ve seen has shown that a lot of people, a majority, think it was a mistake to get in, but a very solid majority opposes getting out before we win.
That’s an interesting statistic, isn’t it?
I think it says a lot for the political sophistication of the American people. …
I remember back during the election when [Senator John] Kerry [D-Mass.] was making a big deal that Bush needs to get more help from the Europeans, a lot of us went to our European friends and contacts and said, “If Kerry asks you, would you do anything?” And they said, “Absolutely not, are you completely crazy?” In fact, there are a number of Europeans who hate Bush who said they are secretly relieved that Kerry didn’t win. Because in that sense, it would have been a much deeper breach between Europe and America to [have a Kerry administration] ask for help in Iraq and be turned down flat by the Europeans