Thursday, August 18, 2005

The Anti-War Seduction

The Moose cautions the donkey about being seduced by the dove.

With conditions in Iraq deteriorating and Bush's popularity plummeting, Democrats will be tempted to assume an explicitly anti-war stance. The New York Times reports today,

"A stream of bad news out of Iraq, echoed at home by polls that show growing impatience with the war and rising disapproval of President Bush's Iraq policies, is stirring political concern in Republican circles, party officials said Wednesday.

Some said that the perception that the war was faltering was providing a rallying point for dispirited Democrats and could pose problems for Republicans in the Congressional elections next year."

The Bushies have clearly bungled the occupation of Iraq. They never had a coherent or an effective strategy nor sufficient troops for what has become a disastrous post-war period.

The public is rightly fed-up with the status quo. But that does not necessarily mean that they will be willing to accept defeat. If Democrats become associated with "defeatism" and "out now", this may enable the President and Rove to portray the party as the "cut and run" crowd.

There is a precedent for this phenomena. At the height of the Vietnam War in the '68 election, the combined vote of the more hawkish candidates, Nixon and Wallace, swamped Humphrey. And the most explicitly dovish candidate in U.S. history, McGovern, won one state in '72. Hawks win and doves lose.

Cindy Sheehan has become the face of the anti-war movement. She has more moral authority than most to express her views on the war. That does not mean, however, that she necessarily occupies the moral high ground.

To withdraw immediately as she suggests would reward al-Zarqawi and his killers with a victory for creating rivers of blood. Whatever the legion of mistakes of the Bush Administration, that is not a moral position. After all, Mrs. Sheehan believes that the war in Afghanistan against the Taliban is also wrong.

While President Bush might not talk to Cindy Sheehan again, he certainly owes the American people an explanation of our current predicament in Iraq. More than that, he should provide us with a new victory strategy there. That might be even more important than mountain biking at this critical juncture.

There are no easy solutions in Iraq. This Administration has arrogantly ignored the voices of reason ranging from General Shinseki to Senators Biden and McCain. Republicans should certainly pay a political price for their failure of oversight for this potential foreign policy disaster.

Yes, Democrats should relentlessly criticize the Administration for the mishandling of the war. But don't play into the hands of either Zarqawi or the donkey's political foes.

-- Posted at 9:03 AM | Link to this post | Email this post