Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Sticking it Out

A Wall Street Journal editorial compares those who supported going into Iraq and then turned defeatist with those who stuck it out and watched all of their critic's predictions fail. Link.
[T]he U.S. effort nearly came undone: not because of this or that tactical misstep, but because too many among America's elite lost their nerve when the going got tough.

This may well be the most important lesson coming out of the Iraq war. The outcome of major combat operations was never seriously in doubt, although plenty of supposedly serious people predicted the siege of Baghdad would be America's Stalingrad. What was in doubt, however, was whether the U.S. could prevail if the war became an extended test of wills against a determined foe using guerrilla and terrorist tactics. This was a test not of the skill or bravery of the American soldier, but of the home front's willingness to see the war through; a test in which the key to victory wasn't competence but perseverance.

President Bush passed that test. He did so by dint of the very characteristics his critics found so objectionable: his certitude that going to war was the right thing to do; his conviction that Iraqis want to be free. To prevail, Mr. Bush had to wager his Presidency on a course of action that, by the summer of 2004, the chattering classes believed was doomed.

The American people also passed the test. (...)

The people who really concern us here--the people who did not pass the test--are those who signed up for the war at the beginning only to find one excuse or another to sign out before it was won. Usually, those excuses centered on some Bush bungle, real or alleged, that no "competent" Administration would have made but that was said to have rendered the whole enterprise morally sullied and irremediable.

A lot of this boils down to post-Vietnam syndrome. Many who grew up then, including many Democrats serving today in the House and the Senate, consider the US incapable of achieving anything involving the use of arms. A large sub-group of them, who opposed our going into Iraq, still hold their 60s new-Left belief that the US is the greatest force for evil in the world (although they never admit this when they are running for office). Thirty years ago, they could not admit that Pol Pot was worse than Richard Nixon, and today they are unable to see that Iraqis were worse off under Saddam Hussein than in the presence of US troops.


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