The white flag Democrats

Max Boot:

AND THE DEMOCRATS wonder why they are considered weak on national security? It's not because anyone doubts their patriotism. It's because a lot of people doubt their judgment and toughness.

As if to prove the skeptics right, Democrats have been stepping forth to renounce their previous support for the liberation of Iraq even as Iraqis prepare to vote in a general election. Bill Clinton, Joe Biden, John Kerry, John Edwards, John Murtha — that's quite a list of heavyweight flip-floppers.

Clinton characteristically wants to have it both ways. He says the invasion was a "big mistake" but that we shouldn't pull out now because "there's a lot of evidence it can still work." (You mean, Mr. President, that we should continue sacrificing soldiers for a mistake?) The others are more consistent. Because they now think the war is wrong, they favor a withdrawal, the only question being whether we should pull out sooner (Murtha) or slightly later (Kerry).

There are some honorable exceptions to this defeatism — Joe Lieberman, Hillary Clinton and Wesley Clark have remained stalwart supporters of the war effort — but they are clearly in the minority of a party steadily drifting toward Howard Dean-George McGovern territory.

Just a few years ago, it seemed as if the Democrats had finally kicked the post-Vietnam, peace-at-any-price syndrome. Before the invasion of Iraq, leading Democrats sounded hawkish in demanding action to deal with what Kerry called the "particularly grievous threat" posed by Saddam Hussein. But it seems that they only wanted to do something if the cost would be minuscule. Now that the war has turned out to be a lot harder than anticipated, the Democrats want to run up the white flag.

They are offering two excuses for their loss of will. First, they claim they were "misled into war" by a duplicitous administration. But it wasn't George W. Bush who said, "I have no doubt today that, left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will use these terrible weapons [of mass destruction] again." It was Bill Clinton on Dec. 16, 1998. As this example indicates, the warnings issued by Bush were virtually identical to those of his Democratic predecessor.

The Democrats' other excuse is that they never imagined that Bush would bollix up post-invasion planning as badly as he did. It's true that the president blundered, but it's not as if things usually go smoothly in the chaos of conflict. In any case, it's doubtful that the war would have been a cakewalk even if we had been better prepared. The Baathists and their jihadist allies were planning a ruthless terrorist campaign even before U.S. troops entered Iraq. Their calculation was that if they killed enough American soldiers, the American public would demand a pullout.

So far the terrorists' plan seems to be working. Even most Republican senators are demanding a withdrawal strategy. But it is the Democrats who are stampeding toward the exits. Apparently the death of about 2,100 soldiers over the course of almost three years is more than they can bear. Good thing these were not the same Democrats who were running the country in 1944, or else they would have pulled out of France after the loss of 5,000 Allied servicemen on D-day.

The Democratic mindset — cakewalk or cut and run — has already had parlous consequences. It is the reason why President Clinton did not take meaningful action against Al Qaeda in the 1990s....

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