The pugnacious antiwar Left, after shooting mostly blanks at President Bush since we invaded Iraq, believes he is finally wounded. And like sharks, their appetites are surging with the scent of his first drops of blood.
Will the Left's dream of destroying George Bush finally be realized with reports of our soldiers' abuse of Iraqi prisoners of war? I am optimistic that the answer is "no" after hearing President Bush firmly announce that he will stay the course. But it won't be because the Left tires of trying.
They have tried everything, mounting every conceivable criticism since we attacked Iraq. Nothing has worked yet, including such gems as "quagmire," "unilateralism," "unwelcoming Iraqis," "we haven't captured Saddam" and "Bush lied about WMD," to name a few.
But they really thought they'd hit pay dirt with Richard Clarke's book and counterintuitive testimony declaring, in essence, that President Bush's powerful performance as commander in chief since 9-11 is overshadowed by his relative laxity toward terrorism prior to 9-11. Ultimately his claims proved to be so irrelevant -- if not incredible -- as to be absurd.
This abuse incident, though, gives the Left new reason for hope. But their fantasy that these revelations will show that we should never have attacked Iraq is bizarre. And their hope of indicting the entire Defense Department, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush over the actions of a few is shamefully ludicrous and shows they're looking for any excuse to undermine the administration during this election year.
More important, the Left's hysteria over the abuse illustrates how differently they view the enemy, and how much they misapprehend the motives and mindset of conservatives and President Bush. It underscores just how detrimental it would be to American security if they recaptured the White House during this critical, white-hot phase of the War on Terror.
The Left is intrinsically appeasement-oriented. You have to club them over the head with evidence before they'll acknowledge the evil and threat of terrorism. September 11 was such a club, but they've already forgotten about it, with their leader John Kerry saying we're exaggerating the threat.
Their appeasing nature leads many of them to agonize over what we did to cause Osama to attack us, to prefer isolated cruise missile attacks, sanctions or endless weapons inspections to full-scale military assaults, and to ignore Saddam's multiple violations of U.N. resolutions. It deludes them into believing that terrorists can be negotiated with and mollified and that the Arab press could be won over but for our infractions.
But the most troublesome aspect of the Left's na? worldview is that it precludes them from understanding the scope of the War on Terror. They seem to believe that since Osama masterminded the 9-11 attacks, we should limit our response to Al Qaeda and possibly the supporting Taliban regime.
President Bush has understood from the beginning that we are fighting a transnational enemy with many components and a number of sympathetic sponsoring states. We didn't have to prove the existence of WMD or an ironclad nexus between Saddam and 9-11 to justify attacking him. We merely needed to satisfy ourselves that he was part of the terrorist swamp from which the enemy is spawned. And there is no question that he was one of the foremost enablers of terrorism, including Al Qaeda, in the world.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not backtracking on WMD. But Saddam had the burden of proving he had complied with the U.N. resolutions, and he chose not to, which justified our reasonable belief that he did have WMD and either destroyed them immediately before our attack, sold them, or moved them to Syria or elsewhere.
But since President Bush correctly believes we need to take the war to the terrorists instead of waiting around for the next attack, he was justified in striking Iraq in order to help drain the swamp irrespective of the WMD issue.
This is an entirely different dynamic from any idealistic or imperialistic vision the so-called neoconservatives may hold. That we are trying feverishly to turn control over to the Iraqis by the stated deadline is proof that neo-conservative empire building is not the president's goal, though he doubtlessly believes that an Arab democracy in the Middle East could produce a multiplier effect.
That terrorists from inside and outside Iraq are hellbent on preventing Iraq's democratization demonstrates the president's grasp of the scope of the war is far more accurate than the Left's.
I'm not holding my breath, but wouldn't it be something if the Left would quit the gotcha-games against President Bush and direct their considerable energies toward helping him drain the swamp?