Blogs > HNN > Losing Nerve in Wartime

Jan 2, 2006 1:03 pm

Losing Nerve in Wartime

Professor Bernard Lewis of Princeton University, a foremost authority on the Middle East, wrote a piece not long ago for the Wall Street Journal in which he likened the War on Terror to the Second World War, asserting that Hitler might have won had dissension in the United States been as great in the 1940s as it is today. President Bush, in a recent television interview, spoke of progress being made in Iraq and warned of the dangers posed by those who want to “give in” to terrorists. What both men were talking about, of course, was the call by members of the Far Left of the Democratic Party to scale down our effort in Iraq and depart. “Bush’s War,” in their judgment, has been a disaster. (Some paleo-conservatives like Jeffrey Hart also support this position, believing that democracy is not wanted or needed everywhere.) The Nancy Pelosi/Howard Dean/Harry Reid/ Russ Feingold position in general resembles the attitude of the Left in the latter stages of the Vietnam War, even though that conflict bears very little resemblance to the struggle facing us today.

One of the great tragedies of our time is that the War on Terror has become politicized. Votes seem to matter more than the security of the Middle East, the sacrifices sustained by American troops, and the hopes and aspirations of most Iraqis for democracy. Feingold, an articulate ideologue who portrays himself as an independent thinker, wants to be president. Pelosi, Reid, and Dean, shell shocked by the last two presidential elections, seem unable to cooperate with the Administration on anything. When the House of Representatives recently voted on a resolution saying that the chamber was committed “to achieving victory in Iraq” and that setting an “artificial timetable” would be “fundamentally inconsistent with achieving victory,” Democrats voted against the resolution 108-59, while 32 voted “present.” The polarization has to encourage the terrorists and their sponsors throughout the globe. If enough Americans lose their nerve in wartime, those committed to the destruction of everything we in the West cherish will be emboldened as never before. Call it the Ho Chi Minh principle.

Ironically, many Democrats tend to wave a white flag at precisely the time in which great progress is being made in Iraq. A Brookings Institution report cited by columnist Max Boot notes that the Iraqi economy is beginning to boom (per capita income has doubled since 2003), order is being restored (5,500 police-service personnel have been trained and equipped), communications (44 commercial television stations, 72 radio stations, more than 100 newspapers) are up and running, thousands of public schools have been constructed, hundreds of public health and water and sewage projects have been completed, the Iraq military (22 new battalions) is increasingly able to take the lead in combat operations, and two national elections have been held successfully.

The War on Terror and our efforts in Iraq should command the solid allegiance of Americans and their elected leaders. Regrettably, the Far Left, for partisan and ideological reasons, has chosen to weaken the nation’s efforts and wage a war on the Administration in the process. Rather than execute Saddam for his butchery, perhaps they would prefer to give the deposed tyrant a regular program on PBS, a stage for hammering away at the United States so many on the Left mistrust and abhor. If Saddam is unavailable, then how about Ramsey Clark?

Courage, Winston Churchill once observed, is"the greatest of all human virtues because it makes all the other ones possible."

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Seth Cable Tubman - 1/8/2006

First of all, the President and his political party are the ones playing politics with the war, and I'm sick of it. Our problem is that Bush was a second-rate President before 9-11, and he's now close to third-rate. The President's political party, led by Karl Rove, is slandering and demonizing anyone who opposes the President on matters of substance. Let's compare shall we: In 1940 FDR, knowing we would be entering World War II soon, appointed two moderate, well-respected Republicans, Henry Stimson and Frank Knox, as Secretaries of War and Navy, respectively. Bush in contrast, has appointed several radically conservative political hacks to high defensive and administrative posts, in both the Cabinet and EOP. Roosevelt did not need Republican help in 1940. But he reached out to congressional leaders. Bush on the other hand, controls Congress by less than a workable majority, yet continously stonewalls and lies. When he won re-election by 51% of the vote (a vote suspect in several states, particularly Ohio and Florida), he calls it a "mandate." When his approval rating falls into the 30s, he still claims a "mandate." He is wrong, and anyone who supports him, is wrong.

William Aaron Markley - 12/31/2005

I should also add that many of the House Democrats shamed themselves when they jumped on the Murtha bandwagon for withdrawal from Iraq, and then most of them voted against the resolution for immediate withdrawal. Murtha himself was advocating "immediate withdrawal," and using that word "immediate," a few days before that resolution was voted upon. Howard Dean has also shamed himself by his many anti-war and defeatist comments, so I think it is very accurate to say that Democrats and their friends at the NYT, Washington Post and elsewhere in the media have been playing politics with the war at the expense of national security.

Why is the mainstream media not beating the drums to find out who leaked the information about NSA surveillance, as they were beating drums about the Wilson/Plame affair? It seems to me to be one of many clear examples of politicization by the media.

Also, those on the Left who say they "support the troops" yet are against the War aren't making sense. By far the best way to support our troops is to win the war they're fighting! To say they support the troops is just an attempt to dodge criticism. I think that vast majorities of troops usually believe that when they are sent to fight, they want to win.

William Aaron Markley - 12/31/2005

"The very term "War on Terror" is a political position: you're framing the debate in such a way that it can't be discussed reasonably."

What would be a better name for the war, then? We basically are fighting terrorists, in Iraq and elsewhere. The Baathists who are part of the enemy in Iraq are using terror, and Saddam himself supported terror against Israel before he was overthrown.

In my opinion many Democrats and journalists have placed their agendas ahead of national security--a clear case is the NYT's reporting of the NAS surveillance. There are also many other examples of politicization by the Left since 9/11.

Jonathan Dresner - 12/30/2005

One of the great tragedies of our time is that the War on Terror has become politicized.

The very term "War on Terror" is a political position: you're framing the debate in such a way that it can't be discussed reasonably.

Nothing new, just thought I'd point it out.