Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice sat down yesterday with the editors of the New York Daily News
to discuss Iraq policy
. She repeated most of the mantras we've come to expect from administration officials, including the obligatory sense of impatience.
"[O]ur patience is not endless -- not just the patience of the American people but the patience of the administration.
"They're hard issues, but they don't have the luxury, really, of time."
Top administration officials, including the president, say stuff like this all the time. Iraqis need to get better, faster. Our patience is limited. Ours is not an open-ended commitment.
The Bush gang really needs to change its rhetorical approach, because none of this makes any sense. Or more to the point, the rhetoric is entirely inconsistent with administration policy.
Bush's approach to the war is predicated on the notion that our patience has
to be endless. To do otherwise would be to leave before the job is done, which would mean, as the White House sees it, the decline of Western civilization. If our patience is limited, we might abandon Iraq, leaving terrorists to fill a power vacuum that will endanger the world.
Rice added that Iraqis don't have the "luxury" of time. This echoes the recent comments of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who insisted, "The clock is ticking
." This, too, sounds nice, but contradicts the war strategy. As the administration sees it, if Iraqis are given a finite amount of time, the "suiciders" and "dead-enders" will think we'll eventually leave, and they'll "wait us out."
Put it this way: it's not helpful for Rice to suggest time is of the essence when the rest of the administration is talking about the "Korean model" in which the U.S. will maintain a presence in Iraq for the next five decades.