Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Encouraging and Dispiriting

The behavior of the Democrats now is both encouraging and dispiriting. They are so indignant, so outraged, so bold in their criticisms of the Bush policy in the Middle East. It's about time that someone began to ask the obvious questions. So in that sense there is reason for being encouraged.

But where were these folks four years ago, the time when the boondoggle of the Bush administration policy could have been exposed. There was so much to be questioned. Shifting attention from Afghanistan before Osama and his people had been caught and punished: what did they say then? Preemptive war: what did they say then? Phony claims that Saddam was involved in the attack on 911: what did they say then? Removing General Shenseki, who said they would need 200,000 troops to manage Iraq after they had taken over the country: what did they say then? Sending in too few troops, with scarcely any meaningful plan, and with insufficient armament: What did they say then?

One of the most costly features of the Bush decision to invade Iraq was the abandonment of the war in Afghanistan. They had not caught either Osama Bin Laden head of Al Qaeda or Mullah Muhammad Omar, head of the Taliban. And in 2002 the best American military assets were being redeployed elsewhere to prepare for the assault on Iraq. The failure -no, refusal - to catch and try the key figures who had killed nearly 3000 people on American soil was simply a betrayal of the American people and even of the administration's stated goals. And since then the preoccupation has continued to be elsewhere, Iraq. What that means is that, for all the expense of human life and wealth now wasted in Iraq, the group that attacked the United States in September, 2001, are still at large. They are still heroes to some militants. And their eminence has swelled in the last five and a half years. The original project was abandoned and, even when the fiasco in Iraq is resolved - very likely in humiliation for proud Americans - it still has to be resumed. The Reagan administration requited no cost on those who killed 241 Marines in Lebanon; the Clinton administration reacted ineffectually to the dual bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania; now, the Bush administration has embarrassed itself in Iraq rather than confronting the aggressive elements that attacked our country in 2001. This is a record that the militants elsewhere have taken careful note of. This is the legacy of the Bush administration.

Some of the experts have already noted that the Bush administration's new accusations against Iran and Syria will provide the administration with an excuse for failing in Iraq. Let us watch how they deflect attention elsewhere, apparently in hope they won't be blamed for their unfathomable folly.

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