This quote, from Vice President Dick Cheney, is taken from a recent Jane Mayer piece in the New Yorker about Ahmed Chalabi. The veep is talking, of course, about fixing Iraq — correcting the error of the first Bush White House, which left Saddam Hussein in power after the Gulf War. But Cheney’s words could also stand as an epitaph for our current war and occupation, in which mistake after mistake has been made, from intelligence failures to poor tactical planning, from allowing postwar looting to dispanding the army, through Abu Ghraib, and on and on until we find ourselves in the present mess, with no light at the end of the tunnel yet visible. Unfortunately, I agree with Cheney (for once): it’s rare that you get a chance to go back and fix a mistake, which makes it even less common that you get to fix ten or twelve in a row.
I have my doubts about whether any U.S. administration can pick up the pieces now. So many things have gone wrong, and so little has been done to correct them, that it may be too late. We may lose this war. At best, we might hope that Europe will bail us out. At worst, we will linger in Iraq for years, racking up American and foreign casualties, before finally withdrawing in shame and chaos.
Very seldom in life do you get a chance to fix something that went wrong.