It isn't often that an editorial column is news, but William F. Buckley's "It Didn't Work" column last weekend -- in which he wrote that "[o]ne can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed" and "the administration has, now, to cope with failure" -- was news. A leading conservative had declared that Iraq was a lost cause.
Personally, I think that Buckley is wrong. "It Didn't Work" is surely correct in the sense that things in Iraq have not gone as well as we might have hoped, but declaring defeat at this time is very premature. From where I sit it looks like there have been two underappreciated steps forward for every undeniable step backward (most recently last week in the violence after the golden dome of the Askariya shrine in Samarra was blown apart). Today, Victor Davis Hanson and Ralph Peters, after visits to Iraq, write convincing columns that support my perceptions.
I hope to heck that I and the other cautious optimists are right, and not just because our household is paying more than $1,000 a month for this endeavor. In Vietnam, we got away with failing in the sense that no permanent damage was done to the country's most vital national security interests. We won't be so lucky if Iraq is lost.