Quagmire news

From today’s New York Times

Mr. Bush’s own way of talking about the future, in Iraq and beyond, has undergone a subtle but significant change in recent weeks. In several speeches, he has begun warning that the insurgency is already metastasizing into a far broader struggle to “establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia.” While he still predicts victory, he appears to be preparing the country for a struggle of cold war proportions. It is a very different tone than administration officials sounded in the heady days after Saddam Hussein’s fall, and then his capture.

After an extensive debate inside the White House, Mr. Bush has begun directly rebutting the arguments laid out in manifestos and missives from Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mr. bin Laden’s top aide. He did so again on Saturday, quoting from one of Mr. Zawahiri’s purported letters – one whose authenticity is still the subject of some question – which predicted that the Iraq war would end as Vietnam had, and that, in Mr. Bush’s words, “America can be made to run again.”

The president argued anew that the terrorist leader was “gravely mistaken.””There’s always the question of whether we give these guys more credibility by directly addressing their arguments,” one of Mr. Bush’s most senior aides said recently. “But the president was concerned that we hadn’t described Iraq to the American people for what it is – a struggle of ideologies that isn’t going to end with one election, or one constitution, or even a string of elections.”

Sound familiar? Check out Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly, a sobering account of how the US got sucked into an unwinnable war in Vietnam.