BILL KRISTOL: There would not be civil war if Zarqawi had not spent the last 2 1/2 years – had ex-Saddamists with him, very skillfully going on the offensive slaughtering Shia in Karbala, now blowing up the mosque.William F. Buckley said the same thing, though nobody noticed:
CHRIS WALLACE: They’re there. There are going to be more mosques to blow up. What do you do about the terrorists?
KRISTOL: Kill them. Defeat them.
CHRIS WALLACE: We’ve been trying.
KRISTOL: We’ve been trying, and our soldiers are doing terrifically, but we have not had a serious three-year effort to fight a war in Iraq as opposed to laying the preconditions for getting out.
And the administration has, now, to cope with failure. It can defend itself historically, standing by the inherent reasonableness of the postulates. After all, they govern our policies in Latin America, in Africa, and in much of Asia. The failure in Iraq does not force us to generalize that violence and antidemocratic movements always prevail. It does call on us to adjust to the question, What do we do when we see that the postulates do not prevail — in the absence of interventionist measures (we used these against Hirohito and Hitler) which we simply are not prepared to take? It is healthier for the disillusioned American to concede that in one theater in the Mideast, the postulates didn't work. The alternative would be to abandon the postulates. To do that would be to register a kind of philosophical despair. The killer insurgents are not entitled to blow up the shrine of American idealism.Of course, he had to reach back across three wars to do it, but he found his historical parallel. In a war unlike any other the U.S. has been engaged in since, and one conducted unlike any other the U.S. has been engaged in, since.
And engaged for radically different reasons. But that doesn't stop him from blaming the execution, rather than executing the idea.
This is the Vietnam "baby killer" meme all over again. No one spat on returning GI's and called them baby-killers. But we've absorbed that story until we think it's true, and we've all but decided the protestors and the media (even Walter Cronkite turned against the war long after Martin Luther King did, but by then it was obvious to Nixon we had to get out) lost that war for us.
Now we're going to blame the Iraqis, for not greeting us as liberators and showering us with flowers, the way Chalabi told Wolfowitz and Perle and Cheney they would do. Now we're going to blame the military, or the military command (who, after all, alone have the power to tell us when to leave; except they didn't speak up soon enough, so now it's their fault we're caught in a civil war), or the Iraqis who've not chosen to follow our benevolent leadership.
And after we destroyed their country, too. What gratitude.
But Jack Murtha is not right, and the commanders have failed to tell us it's time to go. It's because we didn't try hard enough. Or because the Iraqis didn't accept our kindness.
But it's not the idea's fault. It was never the plan. Just ask Mr. Buckley. The "postulates" are still sound.
It's the people who keep screwing things up.