Democrats & Liberals Archives

Responsibility Taken

If people can agree on anything, it’s that the war is not going as well as we could expect it to at this point. Some would say it’s not going well, period. Others would say it’s just another difficulty on the road to victory. History may grant either of those points of view validity, but for now the question is still up in the air. But we do know that the PR war to justify Iraq is not going well at all. Last night on the Mclaughlin Group, Eleanor Clift made an interesting point about it: Each side is trying to assign blame for the unpopularity of the war. Guess who gets to be the bad guy yet again for the Republicans?

One thing for sure. You don't see conservatives being vilified for being conservatives nearly as much as the liberals are for being who they are. Libruls want to take my guns, Libruls want the queer eye for the straight guy to makeover society and make us a second Sodom and Gommorah. We are told the media has a liberal bias, and that's why you don't have to listen to all the negative things that people other than Fox News and Rush say.

The public is told that liberals are weak-willed bleeding hearts on everything from Welfare to foreign policy. People are warned that if you put a Democrat in office, our defense will suffer.

And of course, our criticism of the war is supposedly what's losing it. Vietnam Redux. Very convenient, isn't it? The Conservative foreign policy doesn't lose, it gets undermined. Once more Republicans are asking that classic Tom Tomorrow question: "Why do you hate America so much?"

It gets to where one feels guilty for even dissenting. Fear not, I'm not giving up. Why? Because I think blaming us is a load of B.S. I'm not one of those people who thinks image is everything. I think it's practically nothing without some kind of reality backing it up. You can say we are on the way to victory 'til you're blue in the face, but ultimately people will discern whether or not you're getting anywhere for themselves.

One can go down a list of things that have gone wrong in the last year. One only has to keep track of the body count to see how bad it is. Our little plan in Fallujah isn't working. Najaf is a bloody mess right now. Will we ultimately win? I don't know. I'm not going to say we're destined to lose. But we could be doing better.

I don't believe Iraq is Vietnam. But it's like in some ways. An Elective war, escalated from a simmering conflict on questionable pretexts, which has descended into a mess of fighting that seems to go nowhere fast. But Iraq is not Vietnam the contexts are different. The cultures that we deal with dissimilar. The support structure for our enemy, though keyed to the same style of warfare, to the same ruthless style of battle, is nonetheless different. Also, we have a terrorist group at work the likes of which we never saw in Vietnam.

Some mistakes are like those in Vietnam, some are different. We can say that the invasion was pretty well planned, right up to the point where Saddam hightailed it, and left us to pull down the statue. After that, the lack of centralized, sensible planning is common between the two wars.

The Success are different too. The only success we really pulled out of Vietnam was that we were killing more of them than they were of us. Our success in Iraq is one we didn't even get in world war two: we captured the leader. Sure, it took nine months, but credit should be given where credit is due. We also did manage to take over the territory of Iraq, if only nominally, and take the capital as ours without having to resort to Stalingrad style urban warfare.

But such accounting must go both ways.

If we had come in with a sufficient reserve force, we could have clamped down on the cities we had taken, and the victory would have been complete.

Here's where that whole "The Democrats undermined us" thing falls apart. Did the Democrats let the looting and lawlessness go on after the fall of Saddam? Did invade with insufficient forces to get the job done? Did they fail to plan for the reconstruction of the infrastructure, the one crucial element to our ability to get Iraq back on it's feet as a working concern? Have the Democrats been dragging their feeting on putting more troops in, or outright asking for more troops?

In the end, the falling support for this war is the effect of what's been going on, and not the cause. God knows there's been enough cause for any rational people on both sides of the aisle to acknowledge that things have been screwed up. Only problem is, we have an administration that is personally invested in making their theories on foreign policy and waging war manifest, with Iraq as the prototype for their future plans. The president, lacking education or experience in foreign policy has traded flexibility in our approach to international affairs in favor of orthodoxy. Instead of having a number of approaches to take care of our problems, a number of methods for discerning the state of the world and what we should do in it, Bush has unfortunately taken on a foolish consistency of approaches. In the end, it is that consistency, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, that has cost Bush support. People like leaders to have confidence in their decisions, but they also like them to have good reason to be confident.

In the end, with their domination of the White House and Capitol Hill, the Republicans cannot legitimately shift blame to the disenfranchised Democrats. In the end, they hitched their wagons to this venture and made sure people would look bad if they didn't do so. In the end, they went forward when the evidence said wait. In the end, they favored philosophical correctness over practical. In the end, theirs was the agenda that won out, and theirs is the one we live with now.

In the end, they have no else to blame but themselves.

But saying that in an election year doesn't get you votes. So for now, it will be the Democrats fault the war isn't going so well. Again, it will be the liberals who are undermining something that would otherwise be going marvelously.

Damn those fifth column terrorist liberal lefties! They've struck again!

Posted by Stephen Daugherty at May 15, 2004 10:03 AM