Sometimes I feel as if I must be one of the few people left in America who is not a military expert.
For example, all sorts of politicians have been talking about all sorts of ways we ought to "redeploy" our troops. The closest I ever came to deploying troops was marching a company of Marines to the mess hall for chow.
But people who have never even put on a uniform are confident that they know how our troops should be redeployed. Maybe this is one of the fruits of the "self-esteem" that is taught in our schools instead of education.
The biggest flurry of amateur military pronouncements occurred just before General David Petraeus testified before Congress on the situation in Iraq. Many Democrats publicly dismissed what he said before he said it, and some implied that he was a liar before he opened his mouth.
The real problem is that many Democrats have bet the rent money on an American defeat in Iraq, and without that defeat they could find themselves in big trouble in the 2008 elections.
Politically, the Democrats are caught between Iraq and a hard place. Their left-wing base has been angrily pressing them to cut off financial support for the war in Iraq but Congressional Democrats dare not outrage the rest of the country by doing that.
Leaders of the Democrats in Congress have already tried various ways of sabotaging the war effort, with arbitrary timetables for withdrawal and financing the war for only short periods, so that President Bush would be forced to pull out American troops and could then be blamed for the defeat.
But that hasn't worked either because not enough Democrats in Congress are willing to risk political suicide by obstructing the military in ways too blatant to pass muster with the public.
The next best thing politically for the Democrats is to say that the situation is hopeless. The last thing they need to hear is that there is now some progress in Iraq.
Not only is General Petraeus reporting progress, so have a couple of Brookings Institution scholars who have studied the situation in Iraq -- and who are liberal Democrats who had worked for Senator Kerry's presidential campaign in 2004.
Progress does not mean inevitable victory, much less quick victory. Nor is it easy to define what "victory" would mean in the messy circumstances of Iraq.
One of most realistic of all the insightful statements by General Petraeus was that "We are not going to kill our way" out of the problems in Iraq.
There has never been a moment when anyone in Congress, the White House, or the military has ever advocated anything other than getting out when the time is right.
All the arguments, the rhetoric, and the shouting is about when is the time right.
Nobody thinks American troops have to stay in Iraq until the last terrorist is killed or driven out of the country. It is a question of reaching the point where the Iraqis themselves can deal with the terrorist and other problems of their country without American troops.
That is the direction in which the Iraqis seem to be moving already. It is not that we have "won the hearts and minds" of the Iraqi people.
The foreign terrorists -- whom our media still insist on calling "insurgents" -- have turned both Sunnis and Shi'ites against them with their barbaric attacks on innocent civilians.
You cannot be an "insurgent" in somebody else's country by killing the people of that country.
Those who warn that Iraq could be "another Vietnam" need to get their history straight about Vietnam. The South Vietnamese government continued to defend itself against military invasion from the north after American troops withdrew.
Only after congressional politicians pulled the rug out from under them by cutting off financial aid, while their enemies were still receiving financial aid from other countries, did South Vietnam fall to the invaders.
Only similar congressional sabotage, in response to similar left-wing supporters, can make Iraq another Vietnam.