America is now lurching toward a repeat of Vietnam and all the national neuroses that followed. The debate over Iraq is becoming less about how to win, than about how and when to lose. Should it be by September 2008, as House Democrats propose, or by March 2008, as Senate Democrats propose, or right away, as Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid is beginning to suggest with his flirtation with an immediate cutoff of funding for the war?
The narrative of defeat in Iraq is zealously defended. Sen. John McCain could have spoken more judiciously about hopeful signs in Iraq, but the alacrity with which much of the press denounced him for his optimism was extraordinary. It wants to impose an Eleventh Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Covet Progress in Iraq."
If we lose in Iraq, Sunni or Shia radicals will likely gain all or portions of the country; jihadists will be emboldened and the war in Afghanistan likely will deteriorate; Iran will be in a stronger position with which to obtain its game-changing nuclear weapon; our Middle East allies will lose confidence in us and become even less cooperative. All of this will mean that we will have even less leverage than we do now, and it will further encourage advocates of retreat and engagement-no-matter-what.
The Capitulation Caucus will be ascendant, and the world a much more dangerous place.