I try to notice when I’m wrong. Like everyone, I fail in that endeavor most of the time, but I still make a point of trying. Failed predictions are important. They’re trying to teach me something.
So with this latest news from Fallujah, that US forces are turning over control of the city to a newly constituted Iraqi force under the leadership of one of Saddam’s former generals. From the LA Times, Iraqi general enters Fallouja as security transition advances:
FALLOUJA, Iraq — Iraqi troops led by one of Saddam Hussein’s former generals began replacing Marines here Friday as a plan to end a near-monthlong siege of this battle-torn city gained momentum.
Former Iraqi Maj. Gen. Jassim Mohammed Saleh, dressed in the uniform of Hussein’s Republican Guard, entered Fallouja to cheering crowds, triggering a debate on whether securing the defiant city with an Iraqi force was a masterstroke or a concession that could undermine U.S. control of the country.
So, I was wrong, or at least it looks for now as if I was wrong, when I predicted that Bush would have the Marines push on in and do the overwhelming-force thing in Fallujah. Apparently his sense of political self-preservation, given time to operate, can overrule his gut, at least in certain circumstances (say, when his gut’s choice has already been tried, and more or less conclusively shown to be disastrous). So, lesson learned, both by me and, one would hope, by Bush.
Which leaves me in a bit of a dilemma of my own, though. How do I feel about this? Well, I’m a little bummed by the fact that I was wrong. But that reaction is countered by a sense of relief that the innocents of Fallujah will not have to pay with more of their blood for my president’s bad judgement.
The part of me that generally prefers to be right, though, strikes back by pointing out that if Bush strings together enough good decisions like this in Iraq, he could conceivably pick up enough support from jittery-about-the-war swing voters to help him win the upcoming election. Perhaps I should want things to go badly in Iraq, in order to help bring about the much-to-be-desired regime change here in the US. Perhaps it would be better for Bush to screw up a certain amount now, to avert the possibility of his screwing up much more spectacularly in the course of a second term.
But that argument gives me the creeps. Accepting the death of innocents in the pursuit of some hypothetical greater good isn’t the kind of thing I want to get involved with. I’ll leave that to people like Osama bin Laden and George Bush.
But when I update my US-troop-deaths graph in a few minutes with April’s record body count, what will I be feeling? Sorrow and remorse over the carnage that those statistics represent? Or grim satisfaction at the way the statistics bear out my concerns about Bush’s policies? And if it’s the latter, what does that say about the kind of person I am?