A Crisis of Confidence

The Washington Post saved their commentary on the end of combat operations in Iraq for this morning. Columnist David Ignatius reports that the ceremony in Baghdad was “appropriately tentative rather than triumphal.” As for the way forward, Ignatius us puzzled why “Washington keeps pushing a formula” designed to keep Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in office after the current political stalemate is resolved. Ignatius’s counterpart, E. J. Dionne, dissects President Obama’s speech last Tuesday, writing that it contained “an almost impossibly difficult combination of goals.” And an editorial wonders, if the president’s focus has shifted to the economy, where is Obama’s “resolve and confidence” to win the war in Afghanistan?

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Karl Rove largely agrees. Rove wishes Obama had “the confident voice” of Truman or Eisenhower. And he can’t resist taking a shot a the administration’s “trillion dollars” of stimulus. At the top of the same page, Daniel Henninger has a column extolling the virtues of Saddam Hussein’s removal. He tries to explode the myth (in his eyes) that Iraq was a “dumb war” in the first place.

The Post and the Journal also include a couple of coauthored op-eds on the Mideast peace talks that opened yesterday. Hussein Agha of Oxford University and Robert Malley of the International Crisis Group warn in the Post that the “Palestinian leadership has never been more vulnerable,” and faces an Israeli delegation that “operates within a domestic consensus.” And while the Israelis are not threatened by the status quo or worse, the authors contend, the Palestinians “desperately need an agreement.” In the Journal, think tankers Hussein Ibish and Michael Weiss tout economic progress in the West Bank, a result, they say, of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad’s “state-building program.”