Being a People to Believe In
This is a point worth making over and over again:
[Iraqis] were willing to help us, but they are not a stupid people. They know that if they commit to the American side and the Americans abandon them as we did in 1991, it means death for them and their families. They know this, and it is real. It is not an abstract idea for them.
Most Iraqis don’t support Al-Qaida and the militias, but when our commitment to stay in Iraq and finish the job is in doubt — as it was when Sen. Harry Reid went on TV and said, “this war is lost” *#151; Iraqis are going to hedge their bets. They may not support the militias, but when they are betting their lives, most of them are not going to commit to America unless they are assured that America is committed to them.
Perhaps our greatest difficulty in foreign affairs proceeds from the national narrative, established in the romanticized argot of ’60s nostalgists, that we are a people so self-reflective that we’ll stop ourselves from succeeding, no matter the cost in others’ lives. Iraq would be a wholly different place, right now, if the world had thought it a conclusion without disclaimer that we would stick it out until Iraq had taken the reins of the horse that we intended to provide.
Instead, we are inundated with poseurs’ attempts to make of themselves self-fulfilled prophets.