Saturday, November 26, 2005

The Crying Game

I just love Victor's keen sense of irony and timing on this subject. As usual, Victor nails it down so tight no lefty Demo dare debate his positions with actual facts. Read on. For the original article in National Review online, click on the title link.

So near in Iraq, so far at home.
Victor Davis Hanson - NROnline.

"The president misled us." "Still no WMDs." "If I had only known then what I do now…"

This is the intellectual level of Democratic wartime criticism about the Bush administration as we near the third Iraqi election — the one that will finally give faces to the first truly elected parliamentary government in the Arab world.

So what is behind this crying game at home — when we are so close to achieving our goals abroad?

Bad polls and far-worse casualties. With over 2,000 American dead in Iraq, the politicians think their own brilliant three-week war was ruined by George Bush’s 32-month failed reconstruction.

But the Democratic establishment’s anger is even more complicated than that since it is not yet quite sure of the mood of the fickle American people.

True, from the very beginning a small group of leftists has done its best to mischaracterize the effort to remove Saddam Hussein as some sort of Halliburton, “no-blood-for oil,” “Bush lied/thousands died,” “neocon” war “for Israel.” But despite the occasional auxiliary efforts of the elite press, until now there were really no takers in the mainstream Democratic party for the vehement antiwar crowd’s slander for at least three reasons.

One was the crazies. By that I mean that the Noam Chomsky, Michael Moore, and Cindy Sheehan factions have a propensity to go lunatic and say or do anything — like shamefully praising the murdering terrorists who blow apart Iraqi women and children and U.S. soldiers as "Minutemen,” or calling the president of the United States “the world’s greatest terrorist.”

A sanctimonious Jimmy Carter may sit next to the buffoonish Michael Moore at the Democratic Convention in VIP seats, but the inclusion of his name with Rep. John Murtha’s is still apparently considered by liberals to be an outright slander. So up until now invoking Bush as a "liar" and our enemies as "heroes" was considered over the top.

Two, the Democratic left wing was wrong on the Cold War and mostly wrong on Gulf War I. With minorities in the Congress, fearful that they might never again be trusted on national security, and cognizant that both Bill Clinton’s campaign against Milosevic and George Bush’s war against the Taliban had been relatively cost-free, they outdid themselves in calling for invasion of Iraq.

Go back and read any of the statements of John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, or Jay Rockefeller about the dangers of Saddam Hussein and the need to take him out. Only then can you understand why the U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly, with a strong Democratic majority, to authorize a war.

So up until now, Democrats had an embarrassing paper trail that in the era of Google searches made it hard to claim that the war was Bush’s alone and not their own. Indeed, as long as casualties were considered "tolerable" and the polls stable, most Democrats continued to talk in accordance with their own past votes and wanted to bask in the success of ending the Hussein nightmare.

Three, most Democrats knew the history of the George McGovern pullout campaign of 1972 that ended in disaster for the party at large. It just isn’t smart to lose American wars by cutting out — unless you have a Watergate for cover. Yet so far not outing a CIA employee who was not a covert agent does not make a scandal.

For all the media pizzazz about the peace candidate Howard Dean, the good Dr. had not a prayer of winning either the nomination or the presidency. Indeed, his tenure as chairman of the Democratic party has been a Republican godsend, since, like McGovern, he has the propensity in a single moment of heartfelt sincerity to scare the hell out of the American people.

Thus the savvy strategy as the casualties grew was to quibble, ankle-bite, and offer empty platitudes like “Get the U.N. back there,” “Get NATO in,” and “Get the Arab League on board,” rather than offering an ad hoc alternative plan of leaving Iraq in the style of Vietnam, Lebanon, or Mogadishu.

Two of those reservations have now vanished, as George Bush’s flight suit; the museum looting; Saddam’s public dental exam; the embalming of the Hussein boys; naked pictures from Abu Ghraib; a supposedly flushed Koran in Guantanamo Bay; rants on the Senate floor; the Scooter Libby indictment; comparisons of the U.S. military to Saddam Hussein; Nazi Germany; Stalin; and Pol Pot; the broadsides of Joe Wilson; Richard Clarke; General Anthony Zinni; Brent Scowcroft; Lawrence Wilkerson, et al.; lies that our soldiers targeted Western journalists; the meae culpae of prominent former war supporters from Francis Fukuyama to George Packer; white phosphorus; leaks about supposed CIA torture prisons abroad — along with mostly silence from the embattled administration and U.S. combat dead exceeding 2,000 — have changed the political calculus.

So Democrats have overcome two caveats. First, they are beginning to sound like Michael Moore while distancing themselves from Michael Moore. Second, they have come up with a clever escape ploy from their own previous rhetoric. Yes, they voted for the war, but the intelligence they had was “not the same” as the president’s. And besides, they were merely senators who fund wars, while George Bush was the commander-in-chief who directs them. “He started it — not us” may be the stuff of errant boys on the playground, but it apparently offers a way out of past embarrassing speeches and votes. Even more clever, they now claim that voting “to authorize the use of United States Armed Forces against Iraq” in October 2002 is not quite the same as actually authorizing a war in March 2003.

Consequently, the Democrats are now inching toward jettisoning their final reservation and embracing the Howard Dean cut-and-run position. Still, shrewd pros like a Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, or Chuck Schumer are not quite there yet for two other understandable worries. The polls say Americans are tired of the war, but not yet ready to quit and give up on all that has been achieved, leaving brave Iraqi reformers to ninth-century beheaders and suicide-murderers.

Second, these more astute Democrats are not sure that the Iraqi gambit might not work, especially with the December election coming up, the public trial of Saddam, the growth of the Iraqi security forces, and the changed attitudes in Europe, Jordan, and Lebanon. Many talk a lot about Vietnam circa 1967 but deep down and in silence most have mixed emotions about Saigon 1975.

For now Democrats stammer, sputter, and go the Bush shoulda / coulda route — not quite ready to take the McGovern sharp turn, forever waiting on polls and events on the ground in Iraq, always unsure whether peace and democracy will come before the 2,500th American fatality.

Yet as they hedge — on television praising Congressmen Murtha who advocates withdrawal, but making sure they vote overwhelmingly on the record to reject his advice — they should consider some critical questions.

First, are the metrics of this war in the terrorists’ or our favor? Are the Iraqi security forces growing or shrinking? Are elections postponed or on schedule? Are Europe, Jordan, Lebanon, and others more or less sympathetic to a war against Islamic terrorism in Iraq? Are bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Zarqawi more or less popular or secure after we removed Saddam? Is al Qaeda in a strengthened or weakened position? Is the Arab world more or less receptive to democracy in the Gulf, Egypt, Lebanon, and the West Bank? And is the United States more or less vulnerable to a terrorist attack as we go into our fifth year since September 11?

I ask those questions in all sincerity since the conventional wisdom — compared to the true wisdom and compassion of those valiantly fighting the terrorists under the most impossible of conditions — is that we are losing in Iraq, our enemies are emboldened, and the Arab world has turned against us. But if we forget the banality of New York Times columnists, the admonitions of NPR experts, and the daily rants of a Barbara Boxer, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, or Al Gore, more sober and street-smart Democrats are in fact not so sure of these answers.

So these wiser ones wait and hedge their wagers. They give full rein to the usefully idiotic and irresponsible in their midst, but make no move yet to undo what thousands of brave American soldiers have accomplished in Iraq.

What exactly is that? Despite acrimony at home, the politics of two national elections and a third on the horizon, and the slander of war crimes and incompetence, those on the battlefield of Iraq have almost pulled off the unthinkable — the restructuring of the politics of the Middle East in less than three years.

And for now that is still a strong hand to bet against.

— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. His latest book is A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.


Brad said...

Review: Short on facts, long on opinion and questionable historical assertions (the Dems were wrong about the Cold War? Bullshit. He must still be waiting for the ill-conceived Star Wars project to be completed). If you want some factual counterarguments, why not post something containing some established facts to debate? Still piss-poor.


bahiabob said...

I think it is you who are short on facts. The dems were almost DEAD wrong about the Cold War and there is so much empirical evidence it's ridiculous. You don't even get the true intent of Star Wars and that is very telling. I guess it's time to give you an insight that passed over your head initially. Reagan used the program as one of the propaganda tools designed to defeat and demoralize the Soviet Union and it worked perfectly. Things are not as simple as you and other lefties would have the public assume. And by the way, just where are YOUR so called established facts? Nada. Just more revisionist rhetoric. I thought so.

Brad said...

Alright. Here's mine, and you're more than welcome to show me yours. Star Wars wasn't going to work. They knew it wouldn't work. The Soviets knew it wouldn't work. Essentially, everyone knew it was a failed endeavor from the beginning. Bush tried to push it again a bit earlier in his presidency, but he wised up and forgot about it (we're still at least a couple of decades from making such a project feasible). Under Stalin, the Russians faced forced labor and the occasional death squad to quell the nonproductive. While this isn't unusual activity for a malevolent dictatorship, it's actually quite counterproductive. Due to the lack of actual WILLING labor, (not to mention the overly rapid, haphazard industrialization that took place during and after WWII) the Soviet Union was quickly sliding into recession. It regained some economic power under the hands of Yeltsin and Gorbachev, but ultimately began sliding again. By the time Gorbachev made his offering of peace to the US (he also proposed both nations dismantling their entire nuclear arsenals), the nation was nearly bankrupt. Shortly after, Gorbachev abdicated to Yeltsin, who removed himself from power. The next day, the Supreme Soviet dissolved itself. Star Wars had nothing to do with it. Demoralization was readily supplied by the Soviet government itself, but the US had little to do with that, either. The nuclear race between the two nations greatly drained the already waning economic power of the USSR, and it collapsed. Please feel free to ask questions or provide a rebuttal.


bahiabob said...

The entire tract of your rebuttal doesn't contain even one example that can be empirically proven. It sounds like more leftist spin, supposition and revision to me. Your post is spin just in case you didn't realize what you were attempting. All of it actually doesn't matter in the face of the salient fact that Reagan did end the Cold War and caused the Soviet Union to dissolve without Democratic support. Star Wars was just one card in a deck full of effective ploys employed by Reagan to pull it off. The Soviets were being fed a steady diet of this stuff and even though they thought stuff wasn't true it kept them off baslance. The US embargo on the Soviet Union caused the actual economic downfall. Economies based on Communism usually implode if you give it impetus. Reagan did just that by restricting the sale of most goods to the USSR from the U.S. and not allowing imports as well. More trade restriction legislation was enacted towards the USSR during the Reagan administration than any other presidental term in history. It's a matter of Congressional record. Get over yourself. By the way, you are confusing the defensive missle shield with "Star Wars". Two different things. According to Sandia Labs, the US will have an impulse weapon capable of addressing and destroying 100 targets simultaneously by 2007. Also, where do you think the current crop of laser, sound and impluse weapons came from? Harry Potter? Products of Star Wars research is more likely.

Brad said...

I'll go with your facts on the trade restrictions as far as them being pretty severe. On the other hand, we've done pretty much the same to Cuba and China in the past without either doing so much as batting an eyelash about it. As far as the overall effect, I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree. I'm aware of some of the research and products that have emerged from the Star Wars program, and you're right, some of them have been quite stunning. What exactly, though, are you talking about in differentiating Star Wars from the defensive missile shield? What do you think it was for in the first place?

bahiabob said...

Just one more thing since you asked. The defensive missle shield is a product of land based anti-missle missle technology that existed and was moderately successful from the 1960's. It additionally has benefited from Star Wars technology. Star Wars was all about laser/impluse satellite based weaponry designed as both offensive and defensive. Two different things. But both used very effectively to demoralize the Soviet Military, however.

bahiabob said...

The jury is still out on Cuba and other minor TTR's based on Communism. China is now neo capitalist with Communist overlords. And only because we are buying from our enemy. Most will survive only through our indirect help by some basic level of U.S. trade. Even when we don't mean it, the U.N. is always there to help the despots, too. And with our blood and treasure.