Thursday, September 27, 2007

Having the Right Tool

Catch Rich Lowery's piece on Iran at NRO. Lowery points out that while Iran is killing Americans and threatening to utterly destroy Israel, the Democrats have steeled themselves to fight the dread enemy tooth and nail - George Bush.

In a column that makes a number of salutary observations perhaps Lowery's best line is this:

"Liberals like to say of the Bush administration's allegedly militaristic foreign policy that if the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Likewise, if the only tool you have is dialogue, everyone looks like a reasonable interlocutor."

By noting that Iran is killing Americans in Iraq Bush is "saber-rattling." By announcing that Iran is a state sponsor of terror Bush is "increasing tensions." The Democrats apparently want Bush to just shut up about Iran and give peace a chance. The rhetoric coming from the left sounds a lot like Europe in the 1930s when Hitler was making frightful noises and no one wanted to call attention to it for fear that it would be seen as a provocation.

Kudos to Columbia President Lee Bollinger, a man of the left, for calling a criminal a criminal. Would that more in his party would follow his example.

As an aside, I acknowledge the point that some have made, including Ahmadinejad himself, that it's discourteous to invite someone into your home and then subject him to the kind of treatment that Bollinger accorded Ahmadinejad. Generally, I would agree, but the little Hitler is an exceptional case. With people like him, a cruel mass murderer both in fact and intent, it is necessary sometimes to speak prophetically, to dispense with the usual courtesies and pleasantries and, like Nathan did to David, tell him firmly and plainly, "You are that man."

It would have been bizarre, in fact, to treat Ahmadinejad with handshakes and smiles. The man is responsible for the deaths and maimings of hundreds of American young men and women, and is eager to utterly destroy Israel.

Bollinger's indictment was exactly the right thing, the prophetic thing, to do.


Al Qaeda Lost

Amidst the claims and counterclaims about how the war in Iraq is going certain independent voices emerge that should be heeded. Michael Totten is one such. He's a journalist who reports regularly from Iraq on developments there. His latest dispatch, "Al Qaeda Lost," is as valuable a contribution to the discussion as it is fascinating. Totten doesn't wear rose-colored glasses, not everything is going as well as could be hoped, but if he's anywhere near correct, things are much better there than many war critics will acknowledge.

Other reports are equally encouraging. This one at Operation Iraqi Freedom points out that despite the numbers of Iraqi policemen and their families who have been targeted and murdered by suicide bombers, there continue to be more applicants than there are positions to fill. Moreover, their training continues to improve and they're having a measurable effect on reducing violence in Baghdad.

Everyone who wonders whether there's reason for optimism in Iraq should read both of these posts. Unfortunately, we won't be hearing this stuff on the evening news. They just don't seem to be interested in airing any information that would suggest to the American people that there might be light at the end of this dark tunnel.


Why Not Be Honest?

A recent article in The Examiner revealed that President Bush's staff regularly briefs the Democratic candidates on Iraq so that they know enough about the situation there that they may avoid saying something in the campaign that would bind them to a course of action as President that would have very undesirable consequences.

Thus at Wednesday night's debate none of the Democratic front-runners would commit to having the troops out of Iraq by 2013. This must not only have come as a severe disappointment to the types in their electoral base who are demanding an immediate pullout, but it is extraordinary for what it tacitly suggests.

It suggests that those Democrats who know what's going on in Iraq and who might in a year bear the weight of having to make the right decisions about what to do there, don't see ending the war and withdrawing troops as a responsible option, nothwithstanding their rhetoric and votes in the senate.

If so, much of their opposition to the war appears to be little more than opposition to the President, and if this is true, then they've been playing politics with our soldiers' lives simply to gain political advantage.

A good example of their lack of candor occurred when Senator Clinton was asked by the moderator of Wednesday night's debate to commit herself before the nation to have our troops out of Iraq by the end of her first term, that's five years from now. Like Barack Obama and John Edwards, she declined to do so, giving as her reason that, "It is very difficult to know what we're going to be inheriting."

But if the President is keeping the Democrats informed why would Hillary say this? Evidently, either the Examiner article is mistaken and the briefings are not really occurring, or Hillary isn't paying attention at those briefings, or she's being disingenuous.

If she is being briefed then surely she has a pretty good idea of what she would be inheriting. So why has she backed away from her promise of a few months ago when she vowed that if the war's not over before she becomes president it will be over as soon as she takes office? Evidently she realizes now that committing to withdraw our forces from Iraq, even within the next five years, would be a very irresponsible course of action.

But then why not be honest about that with the American people?