If you have a moment read Fareed Zakaria's new article
on Iraq in Newsweek
. It's both a run-down of the endless list of mistakes made in postwar Iraq --- almost all of which were widely predicted by people in and out of government --- and a realistic look at what may be our last real chance to avert a catastrophe in Iraq.
Zakaria is willing to look squarely at the fact that the "changing the world" agenda -- which the president pushed again and again tonight -- has to be put way back onto the back burner so we can focus our attention on just averting a disastrous outcome.
I don't know how to give a meaningful analysis of how the president did tonight. (I didn't watch it live, but taped, later in the evening.) Perhaps my opinions of the man and his record are too set in stone for me to provide an objective take. But, even setting aside the awkward moments where the president couldn't think of any mistake he'd ever made on foreign policy since 9/11, what I saw was a man with a quiver of cliches and a few simple stock arguments. Whatever the question, he grabbed a handful of those and tossed them back.
It's become a bit impolitic in Washington to question whether the president really knows what he's doing or whether he has any sort of a detailed handle on what's going on on his watch. But I didn't see much sign of either. I just saw a lot of push harder, freedom, we're changing the world, ditching my policies means the terrorists win, etc. When it wasn't that, the president expressed his willingness to go head to head with all those people who thought Saddam was doing a good job running Iraq and should be back in power. He's also willing to go on the record disagreeing with all those critics of his policies who say that neither Muslims or "brown-skinned" people can create democracies.
I saw a man on autopilot, and a pretty crude autopilot at that.