"If only . . . " used to be nothing more than the wish of a fairy tale protagonist who was out of options, as in "If only a handsome prince would arrive and save the day," or "If only a brave huntsman would happen by and perform some Abu Ghraib-style interrogation on this big, bad wolf that just ate Grandma." Now, thanks to George W. Bush and his court of wizards, "if only . . . " is also a subtle yet comprehensive strategy for war-fighting, insurgency-quashing, nation-building and all the other urgent business they've bungled in Iraq.Unfortunately modern Baghdad has no genies in bottles that can blink their eyes and make the unlikely a reality.
The Bush administration would like to see a government of "national unity," as if such a thing existed in today's Iraq. Perhaps in the fanciful Baghdad of the Arabian Nights there's a genie who can cross his arms, blink his eyes and conjure a gentle breeze that spreads harmony across the land. If they find him, they should make him prime minister.I guess we can now see that "stay the course" was all about waiting for the discovery of that genie, even less likely than finding WMD.
So how was this fairy tale supposed to go?
The war started with the premise that if only we could depose Saddam Hussein, all sorts of wonderful benefits would accrue. We would eliminate the threat of attack by his weapons of mass destruction -- except Hussein turned out not to have any. We would strike a mortal blow against our terrorist enemies -- except there turned out to be no connection between the Iraqi dictator and Sept. 11, 2001. Our troops would be greeted as liberators -- except it turned out that many Iraqis saw them as occupiers.Of course this fairy tale didn't come true.
If only the Fairy Tale Doctrine guaranteed a happy ending. Tragically, in the real world, it doesn't.But then of course the Bush administration doesn't believe in the real world but in "if only" fairy tales. Where are the adults when we need them.