But what matters to Bush is not the seemingly endless ground war in Mesopotamia, but the public relations war he's fighting domestically. In the four years since the war began, the Bush Administration has painted a number of rosy scenarios about how long the war would last, and how Islamic insurgents were in their last throes. Each of those scenarios has been outrun by the reality of weak government, civil war and violently religious and tribal conflict in Iraq. For the president to not change course in this conflagration assures more civilian and military deaths, and more damage to the fragile Iraqi infrastructure. Bush sees his mission as winning back the hearts and minds of Americans and former allies who at first supported the war effort. In his convoluted mind, if he can make the war appealing again, he won't have to explain his actions or deal with the critical views of statesmen, journalists and the electorate at large.
The problem is Bush's stagecraft has become transparent. Suddenly, it isn't enough to just 'act tough' in the face of terrorists. Demands for policy and diplomacy from experts within his political sphere started raining down on the administration with all the force of Hurricane Katrina. While Bush's advisors are quite talented in the art of obfuscation and distraction, creating real policies that handle the myriad problems the war causes is far beyond them. So the distractions continue, whether its seven homeless guys in Miami who supposedly sought help from Al Qaeda in a bogus terror scheme, or the twenty-odd British Islamists recently arrested in a bizarre plot to bring explosives aboard airplanes in toothpaste tubes. Yet, no policies have been established to address the undercurrent of greed that motivates American contractors in Iraq; the malevolent hatred and mistrust the two main religious sects have for each other and for the American interventionists; and a parliament and prime minister that combined have the power of a suckling pup.
And it's not that this time of war "strains the psyche". It strains credulity. Bush believes if the American people were only patient with him, and let him do what he wants in Iraq, everything will be okay. However, there are still enough people around who heard the same thing during the Vietnam era, and the Korea era before that. We understand that wars go bad if their not planned well (if at all). And we also know the solution is not to just have faith it'll all work out in the end-when things go bad, we need to get the hell out of there before more innocents and military personnel perish.
President Bush hasn't learned yet that a little bit of perfume sprayed on this immense turd of a war isn't going to make it smell any sweeter. The stink of war always consumes the 'strained psyche' of our country.