The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Looking Backward

Three years ago the MSM characterized Scott McClellan as a administration flack—nothing more than a mouthpiece for a dishonest, warmongering President. He was not to be trusted.

But all of that has changed now that McClellan has written a book that regurgitates the long standing media claim that the Bush administration shaped the facts surrounding the entry into the Iraq war, failed to understand the consequences of an invasion, and then badly mismanaged the early part of that war.

In reality, it’s likely that McClellan's claims are true. There’s very little question that spin, a lack of foresight, and mismanagement properly characterize the administration’s early efforts in Iraq. Let’s grant that it’s all true.

Now what?

The media and the democratic contender for the presidency love to look backward. With 20-20 hindsight they revel in castigating Bush for bad judgment or worse during the early years of the Iraq war. That's politics, I suppose.

But, we are where we are, and it’s very important for the administration’s critics to propose a viable plan for moving forward, given the current realities on the ground.

And exactly what are those realities? Stated succinctly, we screwed up very badly early on, but today we’re seeing more than a little success. By virtually any measure (except Nancy Pelosi's), Al Qaeda in Iraq has been decimated, and more important, their defeat has hurt al Qaeda’s reputation among all Moslems worldwide. The Iraqi army—now working on their own—is rapidly gaining control over many regions of the country. The political situation is tricky, but not hopeless, and US involvement is slowly winding down and will continue to do so.

But none of this is real for the likely Democratic nominee, Barack Obama. He sees only past administration failures and prefers not to consider that Syria and Iran are behind much of the trouble in Iraq. In commenting on this, Michael Goodwin notes:
Obama needs to start thinking beyond politics and talk as though he might actually be President. In the short term, that means being honest with Americans about Iran and its murderous influence.

While it's clear Iran is behind much of the mayhem in Iraq, including the killing of American soldiers, Obama has said he wants to see the evidence compiled by the American military for those charges. Does he not believe the charges? Why not?

But instead of contacting the Pentagon for a briefing, he acts as though America is the problem and Iran deserves sympathy. Which was exactly Bush's point when he mocked the notion that talking to Hitler would have stopped World War II.

Obama is smart and talented, but his views of Islamic fundamentalists, like those running Iran, are consistently muddled. He expresses a sloppy faith in standard political negotiation, as though Hamas and Hezbollah are just special interest groups haggling for a better deal.

He doesn't appear to take seriously their stated goal of wiping out moderate Muslim governments, Israel, the U.S. and anyone who tries to block a strict Islamic empire. No wonder Hamas endorsed him.

It might be worthwhile for the MSM to probe some of this by asking Obama about it, but instead it’s the Scott McClellan show—wall to wall coverage of well-worn claims with the intent, not of hurting George W. Bush, but rather, the Chosen One’s opponent, John McCain.

Looking backward is always easier that moving forward. And it’s safer if you don’t really know how to proceed.

For example, in Obama’s infamous comment on talking to Iran without preconditions (since finessed a bit), he also stated:
"We need to talk to Iran and Syria because they're going to have responsibilities if Iraq collapses," he added. "They have been acting irresponsibly up until this point. But if we tell them that we are not going to be a permanent occupying force, we are in a position to say that they are going to have to carry some weight, in terms of stabilizing the region."

Hmmm. Does Obama honestly expect Iran and Syria to be moderating influences in the region? Does he honestly expect them to be “responsible?” What is the historical basis for these beliefs? Does he really believe that earnest discussions with thugs and apocalyptic Jihadists will cause them to change their ways?

A few weeks ago, Obama got very agitated when George Bush talked about appeasement during the run-up to WWII. Yet his comments continually sound like he’s willing to appease really bad regimes. Of course, his words are carefully chosen to imply toughness, but when Obama says that we must “understand and address real grievances” he’s really saying we must give, and our enemies must take. And what are those “grievances”—oh, little things like Israel’s right to exist or the horror of Israel building housing developments (“settlements”) on land that was won during a war of aggression by the Arabs.

A few weeks ago, when the appeasement controversy was at its height, Wretchard of The Belmont Club said:
You will have to appease the Jihad with the contents of the entire store; not some bauble handed out in the Rose Garden. For a sell-out to have any meaning they will have to take everything. The problem with appeasers is that they value their adversaries too cheaply, probably because that is the price they put on themselves. The great villains may remember those who defeat them with hate and despair. But they remember those who tried to buy them off with pennies not at all.

If he’s elected, I wonder how they’ll remember Barack Obama?