Writing in The Wall Street Journal (Oct. 20), Michael Ledeen, a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, quotes a Marine officer friend as saying he has been told by enlisted Marines, “There’s nobody to shoot (in Fallujah), sir. If it’s just going to be building schools and hospitals, that’s what the Army is for, isn’t it?” Basra, too, where British soldiers are pulling out, was said to be on the verge of exploding since Shiite militias backed by Iran supposedly were poised to impose a fundamentalist regime on the city. It isn’t happening. Violence in Basra has declined significantly in recent weeks.
This is not to excuse the Bush administration from its serious mistakes and bad judgment in the early going in Iraq, but as Dorothy Fields and Cy Coleman wrote in the Broadway musical, “Seesaw,” “It’s not where you start, but where you finish.” The last part of that lyric is: “and you’re gonna finish on top.”
If the United States and its coalition forces finish on top by achieving most, if not all, of their objectives in Iraq, what can the Democrats say? “We were secretly in support of the war all the way”? Not even Hillary Clinton could get away with such a whopper. The Republican campaign commercials would pound away with the hundreds (thousands?) of quotes from people they will label as “defeatist Democrats.” As this week’s lead editorial in The Weekly Standard asks, “Are the American people likely to elect the candidate of a party that has tried its best to lose a winnable war?”
The answer is no. And the answer to Charles Gibson’s assertion that no news is not news is that no violence is news and, indeed, is very good news for Iraq and for America. It is very bad news, however, for the leadership of the Democratic Party, because their investment in defeat may be about to prove itself the political equivalent of the dot-com bubble burst earlier this decade.
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