One of my favorite quotes is "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" (Ralph Waldo Emerson). I was reminded of this in reading about the president's address on the Iraq war and in contemplating all the possible ways we could, but are not, respond to the situation in this volatile country. All the president asks us to do is to "stay the course," when it is clear to even the most casual observer that the present course is not working to achieve our goals. A different course is needed. We must change our approach, not necessarily our objectives, but demonstrate a much-needed mental flexibility in finding a new path forward. Unfortunately, this administration does not seem capable of such new and deep rethinking.
Several clear and direct alternatives have been proposed by various experts, both in the United States and abroad.
One is to set the date for the U.S. pullout (a possibility is the end of 2004) and then demonstrate that we really mean to leave.