First, an obvious contradiction in the fundamental "strategy" outlined: Failure in Iraq "would be a disaster" and is thus unacceptable (1st part of the speech), yet "if the Iraqis don't follow through, they will lose our support" (2nd part of the speech). How, exactly, do those two propositions square with one another? If the Iraqis don't follow through, then are we willing to admit failure and walk away? Or is the threat of our withdrawing support to the Iraqis a hollow one, given the dire assessment about what it would mean to fail in Iraq?
Second, Bush threw down a challenge to his critics: Go ahead and denounce the policy, but then come up with your own plans that will lead to success. Yet here's the problem that that formulation seems to overlook: What if Bush himself is now a big part of the overall problem and is even an obstacle, maybe the obstacle, to our finding success in Iraq? He has inflamed much of the Muslim world. He has profoundly alienated many of our allies, such that they don't want to work with us on this matter or go anywhere near Iraq. He has divided the American people on the Iraq war--bitterly so. He has given the Iraqi people many reasons to mistrust him and us. His administration has squandered all credibility on its war efforts and rebuilding efforts, due to past mendacity and sheer incompetence. In short, Bush cannot rally the nation or the world to this cause. If the Iraq situation admits of a solution, Bush cannot be the leader who will deliver us to that place of success. He cannot heal the wounds. He cannot oversee the recovery. He cannot restore trust. For America to find "success" in Iraq, we need new leadership at the top. In much the same way that Donald Rumsfeld had to resign in order to wipe the slate clean, so will George Bush need to exit the presidential stage before solutions in Iraq can truly commence. He is not the leader for this moment in history. If, as he said in his speech, he now takes responsibility for the past mistakes in the Iraq War, he needs to realize that those past mistakes define him and critically impair his leadership abilities.