"In my experience, fact-finding missions usually work best the other way around: First, you assess the facts on the ground; then you present a new strategy."
Of course, that's utter inanity. You don't let your opponents define your strategy, and you don't take orders from your subordinates.
You might let circumstances change your tactics, but your strategy comes from your principles, your long-term goals, the big picture.
President Bush has led us into this quagmire by much of the same reactionary kind of thinking. "Saddam Hussein is thumbing his nose at us!" he cried in the run-up to the war. As if we had no choice but to invade: Saddam's thumb made us do it!
Reactionary "strategy" is a losing game that the Republicans can't seem to let go of.
What do we want? That's the real question. What are our facts?
1. We're shedding a whole lot of blood in Iraq.
2. We're spending a ton of money there -- money we don't have.
3. We're overextending our most precious military resource -- our soldiers and marines -- in unrealistic tours with reduced time back home.
4. We're grinding down our military equipment to the point that it doesn't work anymore.
5. We're pretty much unable to engage in any other major or minor conflict, or properly deal with Afghanistan, until we free ourselves from Iraq.
6. Our economy is in shambles over the uncertainty in the region, and our exploding national debt.
7. The government can't help much in the current credit crunch because it's spending all of its money in Iraq.
8. We're killing a lot of Iraqi civilians.
9. The Iraqi people don't want us there.
10. The Iraqi government wants us to leave.
11. We are not making headway against al-Qaeda, who attacked us from Afghanistan.
12. We still don't know what the mission of this war really is. Are we supposed to just keep fighting until we find one?
Get real, McCain. Strategy comes from the leadership, not from getting whipsawed by "facts on the ground."