"Naturally the common people don't want war ... but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy ... or a dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country."
Now there is a chilling quote. It sounds like it came right out of the Karl Rove-Dick Cheney playbook. But it didn't. The author was the late and unlamented Hermann Goering, one of Adolf Hitler's most trusted henchmen.
But the playbook is wearing a bit thin. In the coming election, I predict there will be a significant shift in the House of Representatives, perhaps 20 seats, perhaps 50, certainly enough to give the Democrats the majority. The Senate is less certain.
But even if the Democrats win both houses they won't have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, and even if they lose the Senate they will still have the power of the filibuster. So we will have divided government, and most people think that is as it should be. At least one house of the Congress will challenge the president.
The future of our troops in Iraq will not be decided in either house, nor in the White House. Facts on the ground will force a decision to withdraw, and soon. The only other option is a massive buildup of American forces in Iraq, and that means a military draft. Resistance to the draft will be far greater than before because of the new equality of women in the armed forces. Many Americans may accept the sad fact that their sons will be sent off to war, but they will draw the line where their daughters or granddaughters are concerned.
The best future for Iraq would be some sort of partition. At the moment, there is a de facto partition covered over by the furious religious war between the Shiites and the Sunnis. Kurdistan is effectively an independent country, and this was true even during the reign of Saddam Hussein. Our no-fly zone kept him from rolling over the Kurds again. So long as all parties accepted the fiction of national unity, Hussein was content.
But the civil war is leading to terror attacks on both Sunnis and Shiites, and the hapless Christians in Baghdad are catching fire from both sides.
Christians in Baghdad? Yes, and Jews too. Before we meddled in Iraq, a Christian was the foreign minister of that country. Those days are gone forever. We have opened the Pandora's box of religious hatred, and it will be impossible to close the lid again in our lifetime.
I called for partition early in 2005. Now it may be too late to stop the civil war. Eventually someone will win, or both sides will quit from exhaustion. That may take decades. The most probable end game will be a Shiite victory and Iranian hegemony over most or all of Iraq. That will be the Bush legacy.
Now for the surprise twist. Hussein did indeed have active weapons of mass destruction programs. But they were effectively destroyed by air attack in 1998, in Operation Desert Fox. President Bill Clinton stayed the course and got the job done, with no American loss of life, by destroying the enemy's will to fight.
Earlier, Clinton had similar success in Kosovo. He defeated the Serbs without taking a single casualty. But he made it look too easy. Nobody noticed. I guess you need to have a parade of flag-draped coffins and a collection of shattered bodies in VA hospitals before you are considered a strong leader.
But when the judgment of history finally comes, it will note which wartime president won and which wartime president was humiliated in defeat.