It’s hard for me not to be cynical about Iraq these days. After all, I remember when Iraq was a gathering threat. I remember when Saddam harbored the kinds of terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. I remember when the next smoking gun could be a mushroom cloud. I remember when Iraq’s oil revenue would pay for reconstruction. I remember when the idea that stabilizing Iraq would take hundreds of thousands of troops was ludicrous. I remember when Iraq could develop nuclear capabilities within a year. I remember when the mission was accomplished. I remember when killing Uday and Qusay Hussein would end the insurgency. I remember when capturing Saddam Hussein would end the insurgency. I remember when putting the interim government in power would end the insurgency. I remember every time attacking Fallujah would break the back of the insurgency.

Now we’re told that the upcoming elections in Iraq are a sign that everything is on the right track, and that once Iraqis elect their own leaders things will get better. I’m doubtful, but I hope I’m wrong. Every day when I think about Iraq, I think about the people there who want a better future. Not insurgents, or terrorists, or people milking the occupation for power and profit, but regular people who want to live in a safe, prosperous, modern country. There have to be millions of them. That’s the basic aspiration of most people in the world, and I’m sure it’s the basic aspiration of most Iraqis. Where do they go from here? What can we do for them? I don’t care if most of those people love or hate America at this point, I feel like they are the people to whom we are obliged. And as cynical as I feel about the lies, the mistakes, and the false reality in which President Bush and his advisors seem to live, I can’t get those people out of my mind.

I think that for most people who have opposed President Bush and his agenda from the beginning, there’s at least a side of them that wants to see him fail. To leave office in humiliation. Only there’s a huge problem with that, because he’s gambling with our future, and he’s gambling with the future of those people in Iraq who never asked for what they’re dealing with today. So much as I detest what he’s done and how he’s gone about it, I have to hope every day for President Bush to succeed, for our sake and for the sake of the everyday Iraqi. It’s not a very fun place to be.