War is a performance business. That is, if you get in it, you better win it. Stalemates are not acceptable, especially in America, where we worship victory and do not suffer defeat easily.
Despite what revisionist historians say, the U.S. did not lose militarily in Vietnam; we simply did not defeat the communist enemy. And shortly after we withdrew, they violated the signed treaty and took over South Vietnam.
Today, we are facing a similar situation in Iraq. The latest Opinion Research poll says 61 percent of Americans now oppose the Iraq war - and just 35 percent support the action. But this is misleading.
The opposition is not against the campaign to bring democracy to Iraq, the dissent is about our performance there. In other words, if the coalition were winning in Iraq, the folks would be behind the effort.
The far left is trying to make this a moral issue; it is spinning that somehow America is bad for deposing a murderous dictator and making free elections possible. If that's bad, then George Washington is Satan. That's how dopey the moral objection to Iraq is.
But the folks are correct when they say that unlimited sacrifice in Iraq is not good for the nation. So far, the U.S. has spent hundreds of billions and lost thousands of good people to death and grievous injury in that chaotic place. If victory is not assured, then we need to change direction.
There is no question that Iran, the world's most dangerous country, is behind much of the instability in Iraq. If the U.S. follows Rep. John Murtha's advice and pulls out quickly, Iran will partner up with the killer Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and dominate Iraq.
That will heighten Iran's power in the Gulf region and give Hezbollah and other terrorist outfits, including al-Qaida, far more opportunities to develop their homicidal plots.
So cutting and running is irresponsible and dangerous to America, and anyone who promotes that strategy should be aggressively challenged.
But the Bush administration does owe a new battle plan to the fallen American soldiers. If the sectarian violence cannot be brought under control by, say, the end of this year, then a partitioning of Iraq should occur.
Already, the Kurds in the north have a state that pretty much does what it wants without Baghdad's approval. Similar states could be established in the Shiite south and the Sunni triangle with Baghdad becoming an open city. There would be a centralized government in the capital, but all three states would largely be autonomous, sharing oil revenue based upon population.
Iran would influence the Shiites, no question, but it would not be able to dominate the entire country if the United States kept a strong presence to make sure coups did not take place.
This might be the best solution to a bad situation. President Bush should realize his current Iraq policy is not acceptable to most of the folks. If Bush continues to stay the course based simply upon hope, his party and his legacy will suffer dramatically.
So, once again, no good deed goes unpunished. The United States and Britain held a mass murderer, Saddam Hussein, accountable for his misdeeds and his repeated violations of the Gulf War cease-fire. They removed him and gave millions of Iraqis a chance at freedom. That was noble. But the action has gone unappreciated because the world is not a noble place.
Time to recognize that and impose a new, workable solution.
Veteran TV news anchor and author Bill O'Reilly is a host on Fox News. His column appears Sunday. His "Radio Factor" can be heard weekdays from 1 to
3 p.m. on NewsTalk 1300 WIMO-AM.
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