By Nancy Jane Moore
On NPR this morning, I heard new Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying that the U.S. cannot afford to fail in Iraq.
All of us want to find a way to bring America's sons and daughters home again. But, as the President has made clear, we simply cannot afford to fail in the Middle East. Failure in Iraq at this juncture would be a calamity that would haunt our nation, impair our credibility, and endanger Americans for decades to come.
Apparently Secretary Gates doesn't get it. We've already failed in Iraq. It's too late to prevent our mistakes there and throughout the Middle East from haunting our nation, impairing our credibility, and endangering Americans and many others for decades to come.
Mr. Secretary, you weren't hired to head the Defense Department to win the war in Iraq, or even to avoid failing in Iraq. If the people who pushed Bush to bring you in thought the war was winnable, they might have stayed with Rumsfeld.
Your job is to do whatever you can to minimize the effects of our colossal failure in Iraq. It's a virtually impossible job and it will be tough to measure any successes, since incremental improvements on disaster don't look much different from failure.
But it's a necessary job. Someone's got to pick up the pieces and you've taken up the challenge.
Please, please don't kid yourself or the country that you can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. That will just waste time and make things worse.