IN OTHER WORDS: Loss of faith

President Bush said the wrong thing in his speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Utah this week. In an address that repeatedly invoked Sept. 11 he offered a new reason for staying the course: to keep faith with the men and women who have already died in the war.

Most Americans believed that their country had invaded Iraq to eliminate WMDs, but we know now that those weapons did not exist. It is also clear that Iraq had nothing to do with Sept. 11. When Mr Bush articulated his “comprehensive strategy” for responding to the threat of terrorism, he listed three aims: “protecting this homeland, taking the fight to the enemy and advancing freedom.” The invasion of Iraq flunks the first two tests. But it did free the Iraqi people from a brutal dictator and may still provide an opportunity to inspire the rest of the Arab world. Right now, however, the Iraqi Assembly is dickering over a constitution draft that would not accomplish any of the American goals.

The president’s strange declaration that the draft constitution would protect the rights of women and minorities, and his continuing attempts to clog the debate with misleading explanations, suggest his own lack of commitment to the only rationale for keeping American troops in Iraq or, perhaps, his lack of faith in the likely outcome.