At Least the U.S. Admits Its Mistakes

The gates of 2005 are about to shut, and the war in Iraq will end in 2006. It will end not because it is over - in fact, it's at its height, and escalating still - but because George Bush has no choice.

The gates of 2005 are about to shut, and the war in Iraq will end in 2006. It will end not because it is over - in fact, it's at its height, and escalating still - but because George Bush has no choice. The war has degenerated into a morass, taking its toll with every passing day, and the American public is fed up: it wants to see America's 160,000 soldiers come home.

How do I know President Bush has already understood that the war he began has ended? He said it himself: Last week he pronounced victory. On live television, the president declared: "The United States is winning the war in Iraq. We know it, and our enemies know it, too." This is the practice adopted by the enfeebled: When they announce "victory," it is a sign that they are already packing their belongings and that preparations for a disengagement have already begun. Wars are no longer won; the "victors" only pretend to have won, and write yet another fruitless and superfluous chapter. Although the two sides are pretending to be the same thing, this doesn't prevent either side from ostentatiously licking its wounds, or from fleeing and forgetting.

Bush not only declared victory, but also issued a confession and apology. Three years late, the president admitted the basically flawed intelligence that prepared the groundwork, and the hearts and minds, for the war: there never were weapons of mass destruction, he confessed, and no trace of any relationship between Al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein was unearthed. The United States went to war without any Iraqi smoking gun aimed at its head.

Bush Jr. called up an entire nation to redeem his family honor, and so far, approximately 2,2000 American soldiers have paid with their lives for the blood vengeance (not to mention the tens of thousands of Iraqi fallen).

The president's admission was accompanied by another, that of former CIA director George Tenet. He confessed to have deceived the world. "Those were the two dumbest words I ever said," referring to the words with which he described the proof of Iraq's possession of weapons of mass destruction: "a slam dunk" - meaning that at the time, the CIA director had no doubts, perhaps because Bush and his vice president, that man of darkness Richard Cheney, did not want him to have any doubts. A "holy war," be it Islamic or Anglo-Saxon jihad, has no patience for doubts.

In an interview on Israel's Channel 1, Bush told Yaron Dekel that Israeli intelligence also had arrived at a definite assessment, which was in accord with that of American intelligence analysts. Big surprise. When they err, intelligence communities have a tendency to mislead on a major scale, and in unison, as they often consult with one another. It must be pointed out that Israel was interested in a war in Iraq, and therefore, volunteered to fabricate a right and proper intelligence case, and to lend it to its friend and ally for the gala ball.

And then there is Iran, standing off to the side and looking over the Iraqi Vale of Tears, rubbing its hands with glee, not caring what the world thinks or wants, for who would want to - and who could afford to - get entangled now in another main arena of war.

This week, I received a copy of the conclusions of a discussion held earlier this month by the Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies. For the umpteenth time, the Jaffe scholars have reached the same oft-discussed conclusions: "Pluralism, as it is applied in the Israeli intelligence community, has not proven itself. Pluralism is intended to assure that two-three different evaluations are brought before the decision-maker. For the most part, this does not happen. And even when he is presented with different evaluations, and is given the choice between them, he will have a difficult time reaching a decision because he has no spare time, does not possess the professional tools, and has no intelligence advisor assigned to help him."

These same words have been said a thousand times; these same recommendations have been made - and to no effect. Due to organizational and personal rivalries, the opposite is the case. And the decision-makers - what do they care? In any event, they refuse to allow the facts to confound them on their way to the target.

Despite the similarity between the Israeli and American intelligence communities, there is a difference, nevertheless: In America, it occasionally happens that mistakes are admitted, apologies are offered, and even such responsibility is accepted and conclusions are drawn. Not here. They drove an entire country crazy, they frayed its nerves, put it into a state of hysteria, complete with gas masks and masking tape, and no one bothered to apologize to us. Tenet left, and Amos Gilad stayed, and continues to explain "the situation" to us. Gilad is but one example among many. Will we be willing to buy a second evaluation from the same people who sold us the Iraq rattletrap?