Don’t look now, but we’ve not only won the war in Iraq, and defeated the Taliban in Afghanistan, but thanks to President Bush, we’re winning the global war against terror, too.
This upbeat but fist-smashing recipe for a McCain victory in 2008 may sound slightly unhinged, but anyone listening to the hum of the GOP machine in recent days can just make out the strains of these talking points and they are coming, like now, to a newspaper, blog, radio or boob tube near you.
Just recently, Iraq was at grave risk of imploding into a teeming cauldron of terror – not to mention an immediate takeover of Iranian nasties bent on establishing a neo-caliphate across the Muslim world — if American forces were to leave “precipitously.” Today, thanks to “Man of the Year” Gen. David Petraeus, militias are in hiding, the central government respected and effective, sectarian violence vanished, Iraqis are going about their business and al Qaeda decimated.
In fact, global jihadists – who we were once told were so numerous, so ambitious and powerful that only a World War IV would defeat them – are limping along from the awesome whipstroke of the Bush anti-terror policies.
The Weekly Standard’s Matthew Continetti sums it up quite confidently – in less than 800 words — “for the editors” in the June edition of the magazine:
The left’s analysis of jihadism has been proved incorrect at every turn. It argued military power would be ineffective against the terrorists. Wrong. It argued that intervention in Iraq would energize bin Laden’s movement. That movement is in shambles. The left argued Iraq was a lost cause. It isn’t. The left argues that a “war on terrorism” is futile, that defeat is inevitable, because terrorism is a “tactic,” not an enemy. Nonsense. President Bush has demonstrated through perseverance and (more often than not) sound policy that the war on terror can be won. And right now we’re winning it.
Nothing like taking some legitimately good (finally) news from Iraq and tricking it out beyond reasonable recognition for rhetorical gain. I know he uses “winning” not “won,” but read the piece, the message is coming down Broadway. In typical fashion, however, Continetti assures us there are enough dragons still out there to slay – that we need to persevere, lest we ask the next logical question, can we leave now? Or, maybe that world-wide threat was never really bigger than we are?
No mind. The buzz is definitely on their side today. Last week, CIA Director Michael Hayden talked about the global diminishment of al Qaeda in Iraq less than a year from when the National Intelligence Estimate and the National Counterterrorism Center said the complete opposite. Quite a turnaround. Here’s what Hayden had to say last week:
“On balance, we are doing pretty well …Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally — and here I’m going to use the word ‘ideologically’ — as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam,” he said.
The Washington Post jumped on the bandwagon quickly this week. Not only does it declare operations in Iraq a success – but takes this snotty tone with Barack Obama, like he had personally hypnotized everyone into thinking the past five years were a nightmare and now we’re just waking up. So he had better get with the program and change his little tune.
Bill Kristol couldn’t be happier for editorials like this – they do his job – which has been to feather the victory bed for his friend John McCain for the last few weeks, in particular, taking little shots at Obama’s ignorance about real military men and surge success from his perch at FOX News and the NYT. By the way, not only is Kristol a longtime advisor of McCain, but now The Standard’s online editor, Michael Goldfarb, who once wrote in response to a debate over executive powers that the founding fathers gave the president “near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war,” has left to become McCain’s deputy communications director.
Sounds about right. Now, as The Standard gives the signal, the old covered wagons lumbering into place won’t be hard to recognize. Op-eds by Victor Davis Hanson and Ralph Peters scolding lily-livered Americans for not having the stomach for success should be right on time. They did this in 2004 when the ugliness of the war was glossed over with a mantra that we were winning then, and pay no mind, the adults were in charge.
Today is a little different. One can sense that Republicans, desperate to hold on, will declare this war actually won ahead of the fall elections, and dare Obama and his fellow Democrats to deny it. If Obama approaches this strategy anything like John Kerry did in 2004 he’s finished. If his advisors are half as “good” as McCain’s, he’ll be considered the real dragonslayer.