We are about to enter one of the most crucial periods in our national history. What happens in Iraq is vital to our future. There is a cacophony of voices on where we went wrong, who is at fault and what to do now. We should not panic. We must be careful not to succumb to our collective depression. There are answers to be found. Troubled times call for steady hands and an understanding of and a recommitment to who we are as a nation.

Although I offer no solutions in this post, here is a word or two in re perspectives, which go along way in determining how one views the predicament. In essence, there are three main camps regarding the present crisis in Iraq:

1. Those who were against the war from the beginning. They see Iraq as doomed from the outset and an egregious and unnecessary mistake. They blame the President, the neo-cons, the media, and all the other echelons of less-adamant citizens who were inclined to trust American institutions and support the war. They tend to want out at any cost, honestly believing that the price of withdrawal (no matter how high) is less onerous than a continued military commitment.

2. Those who favored the war initially, but who, at some point, soured on the action as a result of the failed reconstruction. They see Iraq as a defensible war of choice, disastrously prosecuted by an inept Bush administration. They are bitter and humiliated, and they blame the President and his men for making them look like fools. They also blame the MSM for reporting the war in a way that limited American options and facilitated the popular disgust that exacerbates the current dilemma. Most of them are hoping that James Baker and the return of the realists will somehow blaze a path to "peace with honor;" that is, cutting our losses and surviving to fight another day.

3. Those who continue to support the war and our original objectives. They believe that staying the course will eventually bring peace to Iraq and the greater Middle East. They have not given up and believe that the policy will work, if given enough time. Generally, they are loyalists by nature: loyal to party; loyal to country; loyal to their President. Mainly, they tend to lash out at the media and blame the "disloyal" Democratic opposition for most of our ills, although they are quietly frustrated with the administration as well. However, even these optimistic stalwarts are composing the rationale for failure in Iraq.

An important point: None of these groups are particularly objective; their perspectives are altered by, respectively, inordinate skepticism, excessive vanity and uncritical fidelity.

An important related point: how you view the war today, in large part, depends on how you felt about the war in the spring of 2003.

Disclosure: I am mostly a hybrid between groups two and three. I am a frustrated loyalist; I wax between complete despair and cautious optimism.

Truism: Success has many authors; Failure is a bastard.

Another Truism: Things are never as bad as they seem.