In today's Wall Street Journal, Doug Feith has an article further detailing what I had noted in my review of his book, War and Decision. Feith's key point is that the President's shifting public pronouncements of the reason for the Iraq war was a strategic blunder.
This was a public affairs decision that has had enormous strategic consequences for American support for the war. The new formula fails to connect the Iraq war directly to U.S. interests. It causes many Americans to question why we should be investing so much blood and treasure for Iraqis. And many Americans doubt that the new aim is realistic - that stable democracy can be achieved in Iraq in the foreseeable future.
To fight a long war, the president has to ensure he can preserve public and congressional support for the effort. It is not an overstatement to say that the president's shift in rhetoric nearly cost the U.S. the war. Victory or defeat can hinge on the president's words as much as on the military plans of his generals or the actions of their troops on the ground.