Victor Davis Hanson

Many Democrats apparently think that claiming they were victimized by Bush and the neocons is more palatable than confessing to their own demoralization with the news from the front.

Others may fear that admitting publicly that a disheartened America should not or cannot finish a conflict would send a dangerous message to our enemies. So while these Democrats accuse President Bush of being hardheaded and unwavering on Iraq, they are still afraid that their own mea culpas would send an equally dangerous message of inconsistency abroad.

Democrats need to admit the truth: that removing a dangerous Saddam Hussein and promoting democracy in his place seemed a good idea to them in 2003-4 when the cost appeared tolerable. Now, in 2007, with over 3,000 American lives lost in Iraq, they feel differently.

In other words, Democrats could argue that somewhere along the line -- whether it was after Fallujah or the start of sectarian Sunni-Shiite violence -- they either lost confidence in the United States' very ability to stabilize Iraq, or felt that even if we could, it was no longer worth the tab in American blood and treasure.

That confession could, of course, be nuanced with exculpatory arguments about the mistakes made by those in the Bush administration, such as: "Our necessary war that I voted for to remove Saddam worked; your optional one to stay on to promote democracy didn't."

Such an explanation of turnabout would be transparent and invite a public discussion. And it would certainly be more legitimate that the current protestations of "the neo-cons made me do it."

With America still engaged in a tough war, that kind of excuse-making just doesn't cut it.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

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