President George W. Bush has done a lot of talking in the past few weeks about the war against Islamic fascists. Most of his speeches have been right on target, and some of his words have been eloquent. What has been missing, though, has been any indication, either in words or, much more importantly, in deeds, that the president is willing to change tactics or strategy so as to achieve the victory upon which he so rightly insists.
Deeds are now necessary.
The president’s diagnosis of the dangers facing us is correct, and his decision to take the fight to the terrorists is wise and brave. But the precise medicines and surgeries he has prescribed and performed so far have not yet shown signs of curing even the symptoms, much less the whole disease.
On the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorism, readers in the nation’s capital were greeted by a headline reporting that a key western province in Iraq already is “lost politically.” This assessment came not from Howard Dean or Ted Kennedy or other members of the deliberately defeatist left, but from the chief of intelligence for the Marine Corps in Iraq. The Washington Post cited one person familiar with the report as saying it describes Anbar province, which includes 30 percent of Iraq’s land mass, as “beyond repair.”
This comes on top of almost daily civilian carnage on the streets of Baghdad, and one top of warnings from Army Gen. John P. Abizaid to Congress that “it is possible that Iraq could move toward civil war.”
No amount of eloquence can make up for the lack of good, hard evidence that the post-war efforts in Iraq are both winnable and in the process of being won. And, since the administration itself describes Iraq as the central front in the overall war against the murderous Islamic thugs who threaten us, there is no way to claim that the overall war promises success unless the peace in Iraq is being won.
If, as President Bush said in his address to the nation Monday night, “the war is not over, and it will not be over until either we or the extremists emerge victorious,” then we Americans deserve to know how we and not the terrorists will win. The president still has not answered that question.
It is not a brickbat thrown by a political adversary of the president, but the cry of a strong supporter of his steadfastness in this deadly fray, that demands more of him than mere resolve. After all, the great “Smokin’ Joe” Frazier was resolute in his determination to win the Thrilla in Manila, but that didn’t stop him from being battered and beaten by Muhammad Ali.
To turn the analogy around a little, virtually all of today’s leading Democrats, it is true, are more like Sonny Liston than like the gritty Frazier: They, like Liston, seemed willing to take a fall in Iraq way back when the bad guys there threw little more than a phantom punch. But in the end, a loss is a loss, and President Bush has yet to show us a result any better than Frazier’s.
It is therefore incumbent upon this president to find some generals and Pentagon leaders who offer a believable, comprehensive plan for pacifying Iraq sooner rather than later. In the Civil War, Abe Lincoln kept changing generals until he found a U.S. Grant of whom he could say: “I like this man. He fights.”
If it was morally acceptable to find a man who fought as brutally as Grant did when the adversary was the honorable Robert E. Lee, surely it is advisable to use far harsher tactics against the unspeakable evil of the terrorists, jihadists, and Sadr-ists who leave the mangled remains of innocent civilians littering the streets of Baghdad. Why has President Bush not insisted on finding military strategists and generals who understand that mere stalemate in Iraq isn’t good enough?
If we have the strongest military and the best-trained troops in the world, surely we can find a way to crush our foes.
Every day, American troops put their lives at serious risk by trying in vain to implement a strategy from above that manifestly is not working. These men and women are the bravest and best among us. We are well served by them, but they are not being well served by those who direct them from afar.
Five years ago, George W. Bush found the inner strength to rally our nation after the towers fell and the Pentagon burned and the passengers of Flight 93 showed what real heroism was. That was the G.W. Bush, of clear moral vision, who still deserves a grateful nation’s support. But to recapture much of the support that has left him, this president must send more troops, demand actual sacrifice from American civilians, and, yes, kill more, many more, enemies. By historical standards, we have answered vicious war waged by two-bit terrorists with a martial version of patty-cake.
On Monday night, President Bush told us that “we are carrying out a clear plan to ensure that a democratic Iraq succeeds.” The problem is that his plan isn’t clear at all, not even to his strongest supporters in this endeavor. Until his plan is both clear and showing signs of success, the Deans and Kerrys and Gores and Kennedys who make up our domestic Sonny Liston brigades will be populating the political ring, eager to have us hit the deck to avoid the punches not of Ali but of Allah-twisting fanatics with names like Hussein and al-Sadr, Zarqawi and bin Laden.
We’re in a fight where there’s no referee. But we seem to be trying to win on points, when the ultimate victory can come only from a knockout blow.
Notice to Readers: The American Spectator and Spectator World are marks used by independent publishing companies that are not affiliated in any way. If you are looking for The Spectator World please click on the following link: https://spectatorworld.com/.