A general once said of his own troops that he didn't know what the enemy thinks of them, "but they scare the hell out of me." I get that same queasy feeling observing about half of American public opinion and the politicians and journalists who try to shape it. Patriotic bipartisanship seems to be like the cicada: It spent 17 years underground, emerged in public after Sept. 11, fluttered around briefly, and fell to the ground dead and stinking.
Now, less than three years after America began to face down the greatest threat yet to our national survival, not only has half the country given up the fight, but they have closed their eyes to the danger. Having mistakenly called our decision to go to war in Iraq "elective" (i.e., not necessary for our national security), they now mistakenly believe that we can "elect" to lose it without serious consequences. By definition, any politicians proposing to turn Iraq over to the United Nations or other weakling entities are prepared to accept strategic defeat.
Nitwit pundits and Sunday morning television sages, with that fake look of thoughtfulness that is their trademark, talk about an exit strategy -- as if it were just one more Mapquest printout. But any such exit strategy will lead us only on a short path to hell. That is because the essential strategic element in war is to defeat the enemy's will to win, and accepting anything less than triumph in Iraq will catastrophically embolden the terrorists.
I addressed this reality in a column I published on August 14, 2002 -- a full half year before the war started -- which I titled " A Period of Measureless Peril Could Be in the Offing." It's central analysis bears repeating today:
"On Monday of this week (August 12, 2002), Henry Kissinger ... endorsed the president's pre-emptive war strategy ... In perhaps his most incisive assertion, he justifies "bringing matters to a head with Iraq" for what he calls a "generally unstated reason ... While long-range American strategy must try to overcome legitimate causes of Islamic resentments, immediate policy must demonstrate that a terrorist challenge ... produces catastrophic consequences for the perpetrators, as well as their supporters, tacit or explicit." In other words, we must break the will and pride of all those in the Islamic world who would dare to terrorize us and the international system."
My column from August 14, 2002, continued:
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.