What Do We Do Now?

Remember the movie"The Candidate"? At the very end of the movie, after winning the election, Robert Redford turns to the advisors who have been grooming, shaping, directing and steering his campaign and utters the famous last line: "What do we do now?" Fade to black.

Something very similar seems to have happened in Iraq.

Pentagon correspondent David Martin spoke exclusively with Gen. Mike Hagee, whose term as commandent of the Marine Corps just came to an end yesterday. David writes:

As Commander of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force during the lead-up to the war, Hagee was in charge of planning for the Marines' original push to Baghdad. So I asked him about one of the enduring mysteries of the invasion — why there was no real plan for running the country once Saddam Hussein fell from power.

Unfortunately, Hagee's comments only deepen the mystery. He says he was deeply concerned about who would take charge of major Iraqi cities, like Najaf, as the Marines pushed through them on their way to Baghdad.

Hagee says he asked his boss again and again who would take charge of those cities. He wanted to know what the plan was for Phase IV — military terminology for the phase that follows the end of major combat operations. Phase IV is, in other words, what comes after "mission accomplished." Hagee says that he sent his questions up the chain of command, as they say in the military — and never heard back.

There's more, much more, and you should read the whole thingand check out the video of the interview. Because, to the cinematic question "What do we do now?," we're still waiting for an answer.