The real "state of Denial"
The country would be better off if there were bipartisan agreement on what is at stake in the struggle against jihadist Islam. But despite areas of consensus, there is still a fundamental difference between the parties. Bush and the Republicans know we are in a serious war. It's not the Bush administration that is in a "State of Denial" (as the new Bob Woodward book has it). It's the Democrats.The Democrat suggestion that "redeployment" is not cut and run and that the terrorist will stop if we leave Iraq is just without any basis in fact or logic. Iraq has become a honey trap for killing al Qaeda which even Democrats recognize is at war witht he US, which makes there calls for retreat and defeat all the less plausible.
Consider developments over the last week. Democrats hyped last Sunday's news stories breathlessly reporting on one judgment from April's National Intelligence Estimate (NIE)--that the war in Iraq has created more terrorists. More than would otherwise have been created if Saddam were still in power? Who knows? The NIE seems not even to have contemplated how many terrorists might have been created by our backing down, by Saddam's remaining in power to sponsor and inspire terror, and the like. (To read the sections of the NIE subsequently released is to despair about the quality of our intelligence agencies. But that's another story.) In any case, the NIE also made the obvious points that, going forward, "perceived jihadist success [in Iraq] would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere," while jihadist failure in Iraq would inspire "fewer fighters . . . to carry on the fight."
What is the Democratic response to these latter judgments? Silence. The left wing of the party continues to insist on withdrawal now. The center of the party wants withdrawal on a vaguer timetable.
Bush, on other hand, understands that the only acceptable exit strategy is victory. (If, as Woodward reports, he's been bolstered in that view by Henry Kissinger, then good for Henry. Invite him to the Oval Office more often!) To that end, Bush should do more. He should send substantially more troops and insist on a change of strategy to allow a real counterinsurgency and prevent civil war. But at least he's staying and fighting. And the great majority of Republicans are standing with him. The Democrats, as Bush has put it, "offer nothing but criticism and obstruction, and endless second-guessing. The party of FDR and the party of Harry Truman has become the party of cut-and-run."