Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Shifty, combative and intellectually dishonest

John O'Sullivan says those epithets describe the Democrats. Hard to argue.


. . . the Democrats have been wriggling uncomfortably in their response to Bush's new approach [on Iraq]. My colleague Rich Lowry on the National Review asks: "Why don't the Democrats have the intellectual honesty to say that they think the war is lost and that we should get out of Iraq?"

* * *
So what holds them back? There are four reasons for their caution--three of which represent hangovers from Vietnam:

First, they fear being blamed for the consequences that might flow from a U.S. withdrawal. These could include massacres of Sunni Muslims in Iraq, ethnic cleansing, refugees flooding into Jordan and Saudi Arabia or Iran, the overthrow of friendly regimes in the region, a wider war, and so on. After Vietnam we forgot about the region for two decades. That helped the doves of both parties to avoid responsibility for the Cambodian genocide and the Vietnamese boat people. The Middle East is too important to be neglected in this way. Similar disasters would be widely debated -- and maybe laid at their door.

Second, Bush's new policy might succeed and make the Democrats' defeatism look foolish and unpatriotic. Admittedly, this is unlikely -- the odds are now against the president -- but it is not impossible. If it were to happen, Bush might be hailed in the Middle East as a liberator.

Third, Democrats could seem to be weak on national security even if the public agrees with them on withdrawal. Most Americans were against continued U.S. participation in the Vietnam War by 1970, but they wanted neither an American defeat nor a North Vietnamese victory. . .

Sounds about right.

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