Commitment and adaptability
Global Guerrillas argues that Washington is now flogging itself over it's inability to mimic Babe Ruth, who famously pointed to the stands to indicate where he was going to hit a homer.
The real question we should be asking ourselves is whether or not our maximalist goals in Iraq could ever have been achieved given the capabilities of the opposition and the limited levels of commitment we were able to bring to to bear on the problem. I suspect the answer is no. The goals didn't match our capabilities and there weren't any simple tweaks to our strategy that would have changed the outcome. This was a difficult way to learn this lesson, but given our tendency towards rationalization, I doubt that it will be learned at all.
A world which has just declared the IDF defeated by Iran and Syria simply by acting at a distance through Hezbollah, might want to spare a thought at how these same countries have been unable to prevent the fall of Saddam -- a regime greater than Syria's -- the establishment of an internationally recognized government of Iraq and the creation of a multdivisional indigenous security force right on their borders. But whatever the situation the field, Global Guerillas is surely right in highlighting the disappointment among some policymakers in the failure to carry out the prescribed plan from 2003. The possibility that one might have to adapt or persist in war may not have occurred to people whose management paradigm is meeting budgets and tracking milestones. The reason "we tend to view ourselves as the only actors on the stage" may be peripherally related to the circumstance that the ever-defeated military has kept the enemy from mounting a major attack on America for five years.
But that is little to the point. A new Iraqi government, it's fledgling army and the thousands of Iraqis who've bet their life on working for the Americans are things to be thrown away like a toy on Christmas that has failed to meet a child's lofty expectations. And Global Guerillas is doubly right to highlight the role of commitment. Commitment and adaptability are the two necessaries of anyone who would seek victory. Anyone who knows going in that he lacks it should never even bother to apply.