WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Our liberal friends are in a fury of indignation once again! This cannot be good for their health. A couple weeks back the source of their anger was the administration's repeated references to the 1930s, which is apparently a very sore spot with them. Now they are again indignados, owing to our suave president's mention of Iraq during a speech commemorating the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Presumably, we could prevent these unseemly eruptions if the Republicans would clear their speeches with Dr. Howard Dean. Of course, if the volcanic doctor had to vet all of them he might suffer some sort of seizure, though how would anyone know? He seems to be in extremis much of the time.
The war in Iraq has obviously gotten to the Democrats. A few decades back the war in Vietnam got to them too, but in the war's early years it was a minority of Democrats who opposed the war. Only after the hellish Richard Nixon became president did defeatism spread more widely among what had once been called Cold War liberals. Yet at least in the Vietnam War the anti-war liberals could point to a plausible exit strategy, to wit, negotiations. The North Vietnamese communists had the sense to present themselves as ready to negotiate and with a dulcet offer to the Americans, "peace and freedom and democracy in a united Vietnam" -- ha, ha, ha. Today there is no one plausible to negotiate with in Iraq or in Afghanistan, and there is nothing even meretriciously attractive to negotiate about -- though Nancy Pelosi adorned in a burkha has its appeal, as does fat Sen. Teddy Kennedy denied his firewater.
I have to admit that when we invaded Iraq, and so many Democrats were hailing the invasion as a blow for freedom, I, in my youthful idealism, thought this would be one war they would not abscond from. Saddam was a contemporary Hitler. He had used weapons of mass destruction on his own people and for the purposes of genocide. He defied U.N. resolutions to search for them and was usually ambiguous as to whether he had them. He labored to dupe leaders in the Arab world and his generals into thinking he had them. (See "Saddam's Delusions" in the May/June 2006 Foreign Affairs.) He gave rewards to suicide bombers, and harbored terrorists on his soil, for instance the late Abu Nidal, the mastermind of terrorist attacks in more than 20 countries, including the hijacking of the Achille Lauro. How closely Saddam was linked to the Islamofascists is a matter for historians to thrash out; but he certainly abetted their mischief, and for years prior to the arrival of our troops at his gaudy palaces both he and the terrorists were enemies of our country and our Western values.