If Mr Bush had been inclined to level with Americans, he would have said something along these lines:
'My fellow Americans, weapons of mass destruction were not the cause of the Iraqi invasion, but the occasion. Even if Saddam did have WMDs - and there is no doubt he did have them at one time, and may again have acquired them if we had not gone in - there was no imminent threat. Our real aim, folks, was to kick ass and change souls.
'But this is turning out to be far more difficult than we thought. Souls are pretty recalcitrant out there, and butts rather adamantine. Iraqis are happy to see Saddam go, but they are not deliriously happy we are there.
'Unfortunately, we cannot just walk away from the mess. If we leave before stabilising the place, we would hand jihadists a bigger victory than they scored driving the Soviets out of Af- ghanistan. Iraq will become the mother of all terrorist incubators.
'This is my three-fold plan. It is a realistic plan born of desperation.
'One, I'll go to the UN to seek a new resolution placing Iraq under its political authority. It is the UN which should handle reconstruction, set a clear timetable for self-government, and chaperone the new Iraqi government to legitimacy. If we handle any of these ourselves, the new Iraqi government will be painted as anti-nationalist, and its leaders possibly assassinated, as Ayatollah Hakim was recently.
'Two, we'll invite the UN to contribute a multinational force, but place that force under US command. If the French want this command, they can have it, but they will have to do the bulk of the fighting too. Since they won't, but we will, we will command. Politics - UN. Military - US.
'Three, we can't ask our military to make sacrifices, and the world to cough up money for Iraqi reconstruction, while living like drunken sailors at home. I'll ask Congress to scrap all three Bush tax cut packages, keeping only what is necessary for immediate stimulus, but jettisoning anything that will contribute to long-term structural deficits. Asians will not finance our binges forever, and we must learn to pay our own way.'
Mr Bush, of course, would never say any such thing. But sooner or later, America will have to accommodate itself to the truth, and there is little doubt the accommodation will have to run more or less along the lines of the speech Mr Bush dared not give.