Despite it all, J.D. Crouch, who is stepping down from his national security post at the White House, is confident history will prove that invading Iraq was the right thing to do.
Crouch, who has been President George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser for more than two years, said the president never will be swayed by opposition to the war. Instead, Crouch said, Bush will use his resolve to help convince a broad section of Americans that it is important to be in Iraq.
"I think it was really the right thing to do, and I think history will bear that out," Crouch said in an interview Thursday.
Crouch, 48, said he has been thinking for months about leaving his job as deputy to the president's national security adviser, Stephen Hadley. The White House was to announce Crouch's resignation on Friday.
With two big projects off his desk — one on Iraq and the other on detainees — Crouch said he thought it was time, for both him and his family, to leave the government and take a position in the private sector or academia.
Hadley said he'll miss Crouch's self-deprecating humor and the way his work discourages leaks.
"He was able to force people to step up to difficult issues, but do it in a way that everybody felt that they had a hearing and that the process was fair," Hadley said. "And that's one of the reasons why I think there has been very little leaking of squabbles of State versus Defense, which you've seen from time to time."
For several months last year, Crouch's cramped office in the West Wing, which he will vacate early next month, was the nerve center for the Bush administration's top-to-bottom review of war strategy that culminated with the president's decision in January to send more troops to Iraq.
"It's going to still be tough and there's still going to be a lot of bad days out there, but definitely, we're already beginning to see some of the positive benefits," Crouch said, while acknowledging that even though Shiite-Sunni violence has ebbed, terrorist attacks have not.
In his remaining time in office, Crouch says Bush hopes to see a stable Iraq and keep pressuring Iran not to develop a nuclear weapon.
Bush also wants to direct attention to his agenda of helping people around the world gain greater political freedom and economic prosperity.
"These are not things that can be solved by military solutions," Crouch said.