Friday, June 16, 2006


Sad Wags and Bad Wagers

Victor Davis Hanson today in NRO suggests that Betting on Defeat in Iraq is far from a safe bet, however many war opponents make the wager.

Here are the problems with those who want to recant earlier support of the more – or take less ambiguously negative positions vice earlier, less definable stances:

1. The argument, notably from Senator Kerry, that “We were misled.”

Hanson knows his history, of which Kerry either knows not, or as he’s famously practiced in the past, selectively aware not. This has always been the definable characteristic about Kerry’s position on Iraq: that he cannot be held to account for any of his votes or public statements, because he’s either a complete fool, or a complete dupe, or some combination of both. Heck, if you were junior in your state to Ted Kennedy, and owed your political career to him, my guess is, if you weren’t that stupid to begin with, you’d get that way quick. Misled, yes, I try to be. Thanks for asking.

(Hanson has more of a principled, reasoned rejoinder than I. Me, I find the repetitive trotting out of fact and history for people who know truth from fiction only too well, boring and a waste of time.)

2. Shifting positions in a war that shifts positions.

Hanson makes the excellent observation that wars and battle spaces evolve. This is beyond the grasp of partisan opportunists and politicos, who know no principle or ethic save, “what gets me and mine ahead?” One risks much who plans public appearances and media campaigns based on combat status that is old before the cameras roll. (This evokes Kerry again, who has quite the reputation for staling just long enough to take a stand that appears ridiculous and two weeks old by the time he takes it.)

3. Legitimate Criticism of the War is different than slander.

Milblogs have highly attuned senses in this regard. If you are uncertain whether a criticism is legitimate, or slanderous, ask a Milblogger. (Or consider who criticizes, it’s usually pretty obvious.)

As Hanson says,

…Much of the Left’s rhetoric was not merely anti-Bush, but in its pessimism devolved into de facto anti-Americanism.
Senator Durbin compared Guantanamo Bay to the worst excesses of the Nazis. Senator Kennedy suggested that Abu Ghraib, where thousands perished under Saddam Hussein, had simply “reopened under new management: U.S. management.” Democratic-party chairman Howard Dean confidently asserted that the Iraq war was not winnable. John Kerry in his youth alleged that Americans were like Genghis Khan in their savagery; in his golden years, he once again insists that we are “terrorizing” Iraqi civilians. With friends like these, what war critic needs enemies? Americans can take disapproval that we are not fighting “smart,” but they resent the notion that we are somehow downright evil.

You don’t have to react to this kind of hysteria with fury or wrath to see it for slander. Most of us who support the war don’t dehumanize our opponents or brand them as evil. Stupid? Misguided? Ignorant? Partisan? Crazed? Sure, those and more, but outside of a few really sick individuals, I don’t think they’re Satan’s minions or anything. At least I don’t think so…

4. The mainstream media can’t be trusted on Iraq.

There had to be one of Hanson’s points so obvious, what’s there to discuss?

5. How Iraq turns out in the end hasn’t happened yet.

Let’s get this straight: The war to remove Saddam Hussein, along with the war to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan, were stunningly successful efforts to free 50 million people from brutal thug-ocracies. It’s nation building that has been more problematic, which even the war’s critics acknowledged in their opposition to our efforts, before they began.

You don’t hear anything from critics about our stunning success in the prior, only our failures in the latter. Hmmmm.

Hanson wraps it up neatly in a paragraph:

The three-week effort to remove Saddam Hussein was a landmark success. The subsequent three-year occupation in his place has been messy, costly, and unpopular. But the result of the third and final stage that Iraq has evolved into — an existential fight between Iraqi democracy and al Qaeda and Islamic fundamentalism — is still uncertain. If we draw the terrorists out, defeat them in the heart of the ancient caliphate, and win the allegiance of enough democratic Iraqis to crush the Islamicists, then our military has won a far greater victory than the removal of Saddam Hussein.

6. What’s YOUR Plan?

Hanson notes the utter paucity of alternatives. Representative Nancy Pelosi defines the syndrome, weekly offering accusatory bromides that consist of little more than, “It’s a disaster! Give it over to us! Once we’re in charge, we’ll figure out how it NEEDS to be done. We should have a plan any day now! I mean, other than the Plan where you vote us into Congress and the Presidency!”

(As to no plan at all, opponents might consider how Military men and women would take to being in a dangerous place without a plan. Our Military and the Iraqi Security Forces have all kinds of PLAN, or you’d be hearing about it BIG TIME from GI Joes and Janes. Again, refer to Milblogs.)

Meanwhile, what’s the status of the current Plan that is continually derided by Opponents as No Plan At All? According to Hanson,

So we are nearing the denouement of the Iraq war, where we wanted to be all along: in support of a full-fledged and democratically elected government that will either win or lose its own struggle.

7. No Links! No WMD! No Ties to Terror! A Distraction from 9/11 Bad Guys!

Irrelevant or untrue, increasingly so as time passes and Iraqi and Al Qaeda documents surface, supporting Hussein’s ties to and support of terror and terror entities, his real WMD capabilities and desire for greater.

Hanson concludes:

Once a democratically elected Iraqi government emerged, and a national army was trained, the only way we could lose this war was to forfeit it at home, through the influence of an adroit, loud minority of critics that for either base or misguided reasons really does wish us to lose. They really do.

There’s little else to conclude.

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