The Bush administration is partly responsible for declining poll numbers and the growing public disapproval of the war in Iraq.
Instead of responding immediately to questions concerning the reasons for the war and the honesty of top-level members of the administration, it allowed these allegations to fester until they became accepted, in many quarters, as fact.
This led to an escalation in calls for troop withdrawals and exit timetables that the president and members of his administration wanted to avoid, for fear it would give our enemy the perception of a weak America with no stomach for protracted warfare.
The "insurgents" are not the only reason the war is difficult. The United States is forced to fight differently from the terrorists. The insurgents use torture, beheadings and "suicide bombings" that take the lives of noncombatants. But when someone charged that the United States uses intense, or unusual (whatever that means) techniques to pry information from a captive that could save lives, war critics and the media go wild and suggest the U.S. military is replicating Saddam Hussein's torture chambers.
Terrorists are also winning the psychological warfare, partly because the jihadists are unified behind a goal and we often are not. They want territory and they want to kill "infidels." American leftists want "peace," without realizing that peace is a byproduct of defeating evil. The left also wants to use the war for partisan political gain and will seek to deprive President Bush of any credit for victory because it could benefit him politically. How sick is that?
Terrorists also gain because too many of us do not agree on which side is good and which is evil. Specifically, the left has reversed the political polarity: it sees the United States as evil and if it does not necessarily see the jihadists as good, it views "evil America" as the cause of jihadism.
The war's difficulty is compounded by nations that offer sanctuary to terrorists. The United States cannot easily root out training camps and hiding places because of international accords and agreements. The American judicial system is behind the new realities of this global war. In the United States and Britain, there may be information about people who are not yet breaking the law, but whom authorities believe intend to. They can only be monitored until they act. By then it may be too late.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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