Don't miss the terrific National Review Online symposium on the New York Times' surprising publication of a piece Monday by two former critics of the Iraq war, Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollack, acknowledging that the war in Iraq can be won. Here are some of the excerpts from several distinguished participants:
From Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.:
. . . . This assessment is remarkable, of course, not only for the fact that its authors are breaking ranks with nearly all of the rest of the Democrats’ foreign-policy establishment. It is also noteworthy for being the latest and, arguably, most objective indicator that the situation on the ground in Iraq is, indeed, changing for the better.
As such, the O’Hanlon-Pollack report makes plain one other truth: Those who persist in denying that General David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency strategy is having the desired, salutary effect and who insist that our defeat is inevitable are promoting a self-fulfilling prophesy.
From Victor Davis Hanson:
. . . . As in the Civil War, WWI, and WWII, the present American military — which has committed far less mistakes than past American forces — has shifted tactics, redefined strategy, and found the right field commanders. We forget that the U.S. Army and Marines, far from being broken, now have the most experienced and wizened officers in the world. Like Summer 1864, Summer 1918, and in the Pacific 1944-5, the key is the support of a weary public for an ever improving military that must nevertheless endure a final storm before breaking the enemy.
The irony is that should President Bush endure the hysteria and furor and prove able to give the gifted Gen. Petraeus the necessary time — and I think he will — his presidency could still turn out to be Trumanesque, once we digest the changes in Europe, the progress on North Korea, the end of both the Taliban and Saddam, and the prevention of another 9/11 attack.
From Clifford D. May:
Yes, Virginia, there are some rational, reasoning liberals. Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack have long been among them. They are serious students of national security. They are Democrats but not hyper-partisans. They are not so willfully self-deluded as to believe that America’s defeat in Iraq would be a problem only for President Bush and those pesky neocons. They understand that America’s defeat in Iraq — at the hands of al Qaeda and Iranian-backed militias — would be hugely consequential for America. . . . .
From Mackubin Thomas Owens:
What is most interesting about this article is not what it says, but who is saying it. If a conservative were to write such an article, the skeptics most assuredly would immediately dismiss it as repeating White House talking points. But the fact that two severe critics of the Bush administration’s management of the war — from a think tank usually described as liberal to boot — have published such a piece in the New York Times of all places might, under normal circumstances, give opponents of the war pause.
From James S. Robbins:
. . . . The weak link in the war effort is in the U.S. Congress. Politically driven assessments that downplay the progress of the war, pandering to antiwar groups, and a public that has tuned out, add up to grave difficulties in sustaining the war effort. Given more time, the progress in Iraq will become so clear as to be undeniable, and the troop drawdown could commence on more favorable terms. There is a significant difference between withdrawal in the face of adversity and redeployment after meeting our stated objectives. It is the difference between defeat and victory.
From Joseph Morrison Skelly:
. . . . The critics of this war will never alter their tune, since they have so much invested in failure. But the rhetoric of the skeptics may change gradually. Like the national mood, it will be influenced by events on the ground. Should progress continue, people will wish to be associated with it. We will thus witness the truth inherent in the well known adage, “Victory has a hundred fathers, but defeat is an orphan.” . . . . President Bush has often stood alone in Washington, the orphaned architect of what many critics assumed to be a certain defeat, but perhaps he will soon be joined by the city’s skeptics, whose rhetoric will improve as they align themselves with the vast majority of Americans who already believe we can win. Some may view their reaction as cynical, and to a certain extent this is true, but it is also natural, people wish to be linked with success. Welcome the skeptics aboard. What matters in the long run is that we win. When that happens, victory in Mesopotamia will have not one hundred or one thousand, but millions of fathers, American and Iraqi alike, all of whom can take pride in what they have achieved.
Read it all here. It is important commentary on what may be a turning point in the Iraqi history, American history, and world history in the war of Islamic terror.