IN OTHER WORDS: Freedom Walk

The Bush administration has announced plans for a Freedom Walk on Sept. 11 in Washington.

The event is an ill-considered attempt to link the Iraq war to the terrorist attacks of 2001, and misguided in almost every conceivable way. It also badly misreads the public’s mood. Americans are becoming increasingly sceptical about the war. They want answers to hard questions, not pageantry.

What is disturbing is the Bush administration’s insistence on combining the two in a politically loaded day of marching and entertainment. The Walk is being organised at a time when popular opinion has been turning against the war. In a recent Associated Press poll, just 38 per cent of those surveyed approved of Bush’s handling of Iraq. In a Gallup poll this month, 57 per cent said the war has made America less safe from terrorism.

Mr Bush took the nation to war on the basis of a bundle of ever-changing arguments, few of which stood up once the fighting began. Ever since, the White House has tried to shore up its positions by shielding the civilian from any war-connected inconvenience. But that strategy has very clearly stopped working. It is time for a somber acceptance of the war’s costs, and some specific talk about what the nation’s goals and strategy are in Iraq.